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5 Zombie Health Care

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Wouldn’t it be kinder, more compassionate to just hold your loved ones and wait for the clock to run down?

Dr. Edwin Jenner in “TS-19,” The Walking Dead (2010)

“Wildfire,” the fifth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead’s first season, shows a crisis many Americans are currently facing.1 In the aftermath of a zombie attack, the human survivors must prevent their killed loved ones from returning as zombies. One woman, Carol, refuses to let the group’s men take responsibility for “decraniating” her prone life partner. “He’s my husband,” she says before splattering his gray matter onto the viewing lens. The scene cuts to another woman, Andrea, cradling her dead sister and waiting for the first sign of reanimation. Over a soundtrack of sentimentalized music, Andrea mournfully says, “Amy. Amy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not ever being there. I always thought that there’d be more time. I’m here now, Amy. I’m here. I love you.” When Amy’s groans indicate her undead return, the men move to dispatch her. But Andrea preempts this outsider intervention by shooting her own sister’s brains out.

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4 Conceptual Fashion: Evocations of Africa

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

A runway in New York, 1998: Models wearing garments that range from sheath-like dresses made of loosely knitted yarn to denim jackets with large fake fur collars stride the runway to the strains of Jimi Hendrix, and then suddenly to no soundtrack at all. Loose threads dangle from the seams of some garments; others have labels sewn outside their collars.

A loading dock in Johannesburg, 2003: At an event planned by two fashion designers, attendees stand on concrete floors in an industrial building in a gritty downtown neighborhood. They watch as performers wearing large plastic bags dance and interact, pantomiming a story of trials and perseverance. The two designers work behind the scenes, holding the lanterns that illuminate the space and manipulating shadow puppets.

A workshop in Paris, 2007: Women from the Goutte d’Or, a neighborhood known for its large African population, participate in training programs led by a designer from the Comoros. They learn sewing techniques that will help them find employment. The designer and a group of participants create an exhibition at the Musée du Petit Palais that features the garments they have produced, which are made of recycled clothing, displayed on mannequins along with bales of used clothing.1

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4. Shopping for Clothes

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THE OLD CITY OF BANARAS runs along the Ganges, the river of the goddess Ganga. Wide steps of stone lead down to the ghats at the riverside. Pilgrims and local people descend for prayer, for bathing and washing clothes. Ghats in sequence line the riverfront. Two of them are “burning ghats,” used for cremation—Harishchandra to the south and Manikarnika to the north1—where the continual burning of bodies attracts curious tourists and the local hustlers who offer to take them to see the “dead body fire.” Eighty-four ghats string along the river, but most of the activity, social and religious, takes place on the steps of the “main ghat.” Situated in the middle and numbered forty-one, Dashaswamedh Ghat is the place of the ancient Ten Horse Sacrifice. Here, Lord Brahma came disguised as an ascetic and requested the King of Kashi, Divodasa, to sponsor an extravagant version of the horse sacrifice, the aswamedh. The ritual was flawlessly performed, and now all those who bathe here receive the blessings of the horse sacrifice.2

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11. Neelam Chaturvedi

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

WHEN I FIRST TALKED to Neelam Chaturvedi in the spring of 1996, she was an art teacher in the Sunbeam private school in Banaras. Unlike Nina, a Sindhi living in a Sindhi household, Neelam is a Punjabi married into a Brahmin family from Banaras. Being born in India to Punjabi parents who were displaced from their native Pakistan, Neelam has developed an adaptive personal style. Constant adjustment to different contexts is a main theme of her choices in life and adornment, a pattern evident in our interviews. My main tape-recorded conversations with her, which lasted several hours, took place in Neelam’s bedroom, upstairs in her mother-in-law’s house a few blocks from the vast red temple dedicated to Durga in Banaras.1

When she was growing up in Banaras, Neelam spoke Punjabi at home with her parents, yet she was exposed to Hindi at school and to the local Bhojpuri dialect of the servants. Neelam learned Hindi and Bhojpuri, and, though she was scolded for speaking these ill-regarded languages in the presence of her parents, she grew up speaking what she calls a “mix” of languages. Her shifting between Punjabi and Hindi, choosing one or the other in different contexts, is like the double-coding used by immigrant children who grow up in America, adapting and conforming to two cultures simultaneously.

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4 · Tropical Gothic

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

The only thing going on was a war, and no one seemed to notice but Yossarian. . . . And when Yossarian tried to remind people, they drew away from him and thought he was crazy.


Early in Storms’s days at Lubanda, IAA Secretary General Strauch made it clear that he was discontent with the amount of information the lieutenant was forwarding to him and asked for more. Storms responded that he spent his days otherwise, with the implication that he had little time for such idle niceties as correspondence. From five thirty in the morning until two in the afternoon, he oversaw the construction of his boma every day, and at four he set off hunting in the hilly woods west of Lubanda. “For me, continuous work is the best remedy to ward off fever,” he explained—a nonchalant remark, perhaps, but telling nonetheless.1

A shocking number of Storms’s European peers visiting central Africa suffered mightily and many perished, and often gruesomely, from malaria, smallpox, cholera, dysentery, parasites, and other dire diseases, to say nothing of sunstroke, infected wounds, broken and unset limbs, and mental instability. Explorers felt assailed, as Stanley put it, by “Fatal Africa! One after another, travelers drop away . . . the torrid heat, the miasma exhaled from the soil, the noisome vapours enveloping every path, the giant cane-grass suffocating the wayfarer, the rabid fury of the native . . . the unspeakable misery of the life within the wild continent.” Who could hope to cope with such unspeakable rigors?2 Underlying all of these dreadful possibilities was a further sense of “fever (often capitalized in the sources), [that,] far from being regarded as just a medical condition and a reaction of the immune system to multiple causes, became essentialized as the ecstatic counterstate to ascetic hygiene.” Indeed, as Johannes Fabian asserts, “Fever was an ideology” implying “the ‘sacrifice’ every traveler must bring to the black continent” and “a myth needed to make sense of the mortal dangers of exploration, a metaphor giving meaning to what would otherwise have remained as brutal facts.” Fever was also something of “a bad love affair” that required its own “poetics,” and such passions contributed to the sense of central Africa as personifying—more literally than one may now assume—everything fearfully primordial. Such menaces might be met with “ascetic hygiene,” as Fabian suggests, but I would add that more basically at issue was an aesthetic hygiene, to be performed in any such ecstasis.3

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