Unsaid of the Undead: Zombie and Transplantation Resource Guide

Many zombie fans out there have likely read The Zombie Survival Guide. But to gear up for the onslaught of chilling revelations (and hopefully also glimmers of hope) that will arise from our upcoming May 23rd zombie-transplant webinar extravaganza, we’ve curated a special guide tailored to help you get even more out of the discussion. While you’re delving into the zombie deep, we’ve also provided you with a slammin’ playlist to set the mood.

To register for the live online webinar “Unsaid of the undead: A panel discussion exploring zombi(e)-transplant connections” visit here.

Editor’s note: The webinar has already taken place. But you can view an excerpt of the rousing discussion!

More resources you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!

(Sources: Flickr, Open Clip Art, Wikimedia Commons)

Recommended reads written by our distinguished panelists

Eric Hamako

Hamako, E. (2011).  Zombie Orientals ate my brain!  Orientalism in contemporary zombie film and fiction.  In Moreman, C. & Rushton, C. (Eds.), Race, oppression and the zombie: Essays on cross-cultural appropriations of the Caribbean tradition.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Hamako, E. (2009).  The Yellow Peril rises from the grave… to get your White Women!  Orientalist themes in zombie stories.  In Media Res.
Retrieved from http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2009/09/16/yellow-peril-rises-grave-get-your-white-women-orientalist-themes-zombie-stories.

Hamako, E. (2005). For the movement: Community education supporting multiracial organizing. Equity and Excellence in Education, 38(2), 145-154.

Jeffrey Mantz

Improvisational Economies: Coltan Production in the Eastern Congo.” Social Anthropology 16 (2): 34-50. Click here for PDF.

“Enchanting Panics and Obeah Anxieties: Concealing and Disclosing Eastern Caribbean Witchcraft” Anthropology and Humanism 32 (1): 18-29. Click here for PDF.

“How a Huckster Becomes a Custodian of Moral Markets: Traditions of Flexibility in Exchange in Dominica .” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 14 (1-2): 19-38. Click here for PDF.

(With James H. Smith), “Do Cellular Phones Dream of Civil War?: The Mystification of Production and the Consequences of Technology Fetishism in the Eastern Congo ” (In Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena . (Ed.) Max Kirsch. New York : Routledge). Click here for PDF.


8 Things you need to know about zombies (NPR, All Things Considered)

Barry F. Saunders

CT Suite: The Work of Diagnosis in the Age of Noninvasive Cutting (Duke University Press, 2008)

And Dr. Saunders has a fabulous syllabus that serves as an excellent reading list in its own right:

The Undead: Bodies in Between: Fleshing out some Cultural Theories

Other relevant works

Cohen, L. 2003. Metaphor and Alienation. Anthropological Quarterly 76(2): 343-350. A review of Napier, A.D. 2003. The Age of Immunology: Conceiving the Future in an Alienating World (also highly recommended)

Comaroff, J. and Comaroff, J. Alien-Nation: Zombies, Immigrants, and Millenial Capitalism. The South Atlantic Quarterly 104.4 (2002): 779-805.
Hopkinson, N. 1998. Brown Girl in the Ring. New York: Warner.
Joralemon, D. 1995. Organ Wars: The Battle for Body Parts. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 9(3): 335-356.
Littlewood, R. Functionalists and Zombis: Sorcery as spandrel and social rescue. Anthropology & Medicine 16(3): 241–252
 Scheper-Hughes, N.  1996. Theft of Life: The Globalization of Organ Stealing Rumors.  Anthropology Today, 12(3): 3-11.

More Linkity-links

Dinello, D. 2011. The Contagious Age: Overwhelmed by Vampires, Viruses, and Zombies. (Pop Matters)

Strohecker, D.P. 2011. On the Origin of Zombies (Sociological Images)

The Culture and Poverty of Zombies (The Global Sociology Blog)

Littlewood, R. 1997. The Plight of the Living Dead (Times Higher Education Supplement)

Thomas, V.  (Il)literacy, Haiti and Voudou. How we should be rethinking Afro-Haitian religion in the wake of natural disaster. (Huffington Post)


This playlist is meticulously curated, though hardly exhaustive. I tried to make sure every track was musically solid. There are some really amazing selections at best, others fairly listenable at worst.  But they are all united in showcasing the incredibly varied flexibility and creativity exerted in musically employing zombies. I willfully avoided a lot of death metal which is saturated with zombie references. It would’ve been an easy way out of digging deeper for some good finds, and it would’ve made the playlist highly unpalatable for most. So get up, get down, get funky, get loose Unsaid of the Undead style!

Play the full playlist(minus two)



Of course, I couldn’t get this song out of my head when the H1N1 outbreak happened. But more closely hewing to the zombie connection, it samples Day of the Dead. And the line is echoed in 28 Days Later as the only words uttered for the film’s first several minutes.


A famed Dawn of the Dead soundtrack cut that was also re-used in Shaun of the Dead, Goblin’s musical contribution to the horror genre is undeniable. Their work on Suspiria amplified the fear factor of that film to almost unbearable levels.

The Originals-Supernatural Voodoo Woman (not on playlist-listen here)

The opening track of Sugar Hill, this is one groovy yet lesser known jam. Most interesting lyric: “celebrate the death of hate.”

Siouxsie and the Banshees-Premature Burial

I love Siouxie. Honestly Cities in Dust is a superior track, but the zombierama on this was too irresistibly literal not to include.

Of Montreal-Enemy Gene

Gah. The lyrics are amazing in this futuro-twee whirlwind. “How can I trust my fractious heart/ knowing I have the enemy gene?/Love breaks the machine…everything is born in shame it’s not just me/Particle wave duality. ” Wow. I mean, if anything invoked zombies and humanity as being flip sides of the same coin this does it masterfully. Their live show is a must-see spectacle too.

Janelle Monae-Dance or Die

I love Janelle Monae. And I will shout it from the rooftops. Including zombies in her utter masterpiece, The Archandroid makes perfect sense. She works with Of Montreal, so the similar tropes are no mere coincidence. Tipping on the tightrope between machine and human, as cyborg Cindy Mayweather, Monae takes old tropes and riffs on them anew in ways that will blow your mind. As a live act she also astounds. One of my personal favorite concerts of all time.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Heads Will Roll (Yan Zombie remix)

Karen O and co. whipped out yet another rad tune. And then it got zombified. Grooviness.

The Zutons-Dirty Dancehall

I saw The Zutons in small club in San Francisco way back when. Boy, do they rock out! This ditty swirls with images of urban decay and circling scavengers, in a haze of screeches, punctuated by a punchy sax.

Lady Leshurr–Lego

The rhymes from this woman rule. While it only references the zombie once, the track is notable for its identification with zombies, amidst other supernatural creatures that allow her to unleash an unstoppable performative persona.

Harry Belafonte-Zombie Jamboree

A weirdly festive Caribbean number from a musical legend. Although this one is my favorite from Belafonte since I was a little kid. My dad and I used to sing along with a cassette tape of his greatest hits.

Shari Belafonte–Get Dead

And then his daughter followed in his footsteps with this one. The video is a must watch. Then when you’re done check out this hilariously bad treat.

ABBA-Dancing Queen

Only here for its discordantly innovative sonic juxtaposition in one of the greatest episodes of Community, “Epidemiology.” It’s the Halloween one about a zombie infection. Others have acknowledged that it was an inspired musical choice. Honorable mention to this track heralding Troy, who I know would be shaken to his core to see Levar Burton’s state in the previous video. BTW, ABBA is also just really good pop music. Stephen Fry has my back on this one.

Fats Waller-Ambercrombie had a Zombie

Yes, it references the cocktail more so than the undead. However, it is interesting to note that Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most famous zombie ethnographers, was a contemporary and friend of Waller’s. Stride piano and the early jazz era was raunchier than most people realize. And there’s one lyric in it that connects perfectly to the commentary of the previous track.

Terry tha Rapman-Zombie

This Nigerian MC drones a bit, but the refrain, “If hip hop is dead I don’t turn zombie” and the reference to 2Pac in light of the recent holographic performance at Coachella gives this track some new life.

Fela Kuti-Zombie

Speaking of the Nigerian connection to zombies, this track is the stuff of absolute legend. Not only for its political significance, but the fact that it led to the defenestration of Fela’s mother. Yeah, I just wanted to type defenestration. And there, I did it twice.

Michael Jackson–Thriller

Canon. Omission would be (smooth?) criminal. Note the disavowal of the occult at the outset.

Duran Duran-Nightboat

I am a Duranie, no doubt.  The video features zombie attacks, a trademark early entry in their oeuvre of eerie and otherworldly music videos that often had a touch of camp at the same time that it captured all the sexy glamour of the new romantics in all their androgynous glory. For any of you who missed it, their nominal homage to Barbarella is a clear declaration of their love for the sci-fi, the buxom, and the fantastical, which largely explains their aesthetic leanings. Plus, Simon LeBon reciting the Queen Mab speech? Gold.

Sufjan Stevens-They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!

Beautiful, ambitious, occasionally overblown, but none worse for the wear. Interesting given Stevens’ penchant for mysticism and elements of Christianity.

Steely Dan-Sign in Stranger

A classic tune in classic SD style. Along with Haitian Divorce, it’s clear they had zombies on the lyrical brain.

Bernadette Peters-You could Drive a Person Crazy

This Sondheim-penned number was originally performed with three people in Company. But the Peters version here not only showcases her oodles of talent, but adds another layer of schizophrenia to the already insanely frenetic timbre of the song. It’s a delightfully whizzy analogy of apathy and zombiehood in the game of modern love, a fool’s errand played by those afflicted with madness.

Yamaguchi Rie feat. Manzo-Kizuite Zombie-sama, Watashi wa Classmate Desu

Admittedly I’ve never seen the anime that this OST comes from, I do know it involves zombies however. But this is infectious, catchy J-pop that sounds straight out of an old Super NES game. Oozes Kawaii. It’s so sticky sweet you won’t be able to pry your headphones off.

Mix Speaker’s Inc.-Spring. I miss my loved ones

This Oshare Kei band gives us nice little pop rock tune. It hardly merits huge praise, but their performance outfit outrageousness, which often includes zombie ensembles, as well as the fact that this is off an album entitled Animal Zombie Zoo, combines for a package worth including.

Nacao Zumbi-Do Mote do Doutor Charles Zambohead

The poly-rhythms on this track are sick. It’s as if the guys from Red Hot Chili Peppers made love to a capoeira dancer and this music was their lovechild. Honorable mention goes to their track Zumbi Zulu, where the fusion with the undead, South Africa and Afrika Bambata make it an additionally killer listen from Brazil’s Zombie Nation.

Zombie oper-Se Zumbi E Muito Bom (not on playlist-download free here)

Also out of Brazil, I first found out about this because there’s a track in the opera that features Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys. If anyone does sci-fi oddities and apocalyptic musings well it’s SFA. We suspect Darryl Dixon would love this one especially. But I digress. This opera is its own wildly offbeat offering. And this has to be one of the more easily digestible pieces.

Iggy Pop–Eat or be eaten

Off his album Zombie Birdhouse, this is Iggy’s raw anthem about consumption and survival. In a deliberate choice, the LP cover was shot in Haiti. In a more roundabout connection, not only was Iggy on the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s film adaptation of Trainspotting, he connects to its star Ewan McGregor, who also portrayed an Iggy-Lou Reed hybrid in Velvet Goldmine. Not to mention the fact that Boyle also directed zombie box office smash 28 Days Later.

Blue States, Blue States-Season Song

Which brings us to this beautifully lush dream-pop that played as the end credits rolled on that movie.

The Zombies-Time of the Season

Ace classic from Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, and co. One of my favorite bands, and if their name is all that got them on this playlist, I can live with that.

Other suggested playlists (there is some crossover)

From Pop Matters

The Village Voice

An Undead Playlist from Tor

4 Responses to “Unsaid of the Undead: Zombie and Transplantation Resource Guide”
  1. This is a great article, thanks for Writing it, I love Zombies too! I even made my own site about them, you should check it out if you have the time! Surviving the zombie apocalypse Zombie crossroads

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