Not often do I get to write about zombies, internet geography, German Wikipedia articles, cats, and goatse.cx all in the same chapter. But that is precisely what I got to do in a piece on “mapping zombies” that I carried out with Taylor Shelton and Matt Zook.
Feel free to download the chapter below:
Graham, M., Shelton, T., and Zook, M. 2013. Mapping Zombies: A Guide for Pre-Apocalyptic Analysis and Post-Apocalyptic Survival. In Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education. Eds. Whelan, A., Walker, R., and Moore, C. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Zombies exist, though perhaps not in an entirely literal sense. But the existence, even the outright prevalence, of zombies in the collective social imaginary gives them a ‘realness’, even though a zombie apocalypse has yet to happen. The zombie trope exists as a means through which society can playfully, if somewhat grimly and gruesomely, discover the intricacies of humanity’s relationship with nature and the socially constructed world that emerges from it. In this chapter, we present an analysis of the prevalence of zombies and zombie-related terminology within the geographically grounded parts of cyberspace, known as the geoweb (see also Haklay et al. 2008 and Graham 2010). Just as zombies provide a means to explore, imagine and reconstruct the world around us, so too do the socio-technical practices of the geoweb provide a means for better understanding human society (Shelton et al. 2013; Graham and Zook 2011; Zook et al. 2010; Zook and Graham 2007). In short, looking for and mapping geo-coded references to zombies on the web provides insight on the memes, mechanisms and the macabre of the modern world. Using a series of maps that visualize the virtual geographies of zombies, this chapter seeks to comprehend the ways in which both zombies and the geoweb are simultaneously reflective of and employed in producing new understandings of our world.