The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
On the evening of Friday, June 5, I will be part of a panel of academic experts on zombies at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington. The panel will follow a a performance of the new play "Zombie: The American"—which cleverly uses the zombie theme to examine and make fun of aspects of American politics. The other participants in the panel will be Kylos Brannon (American University), Rebekah Carmichael (DC Room Escape Adventures), Shannon Davies Mancus (George Washington University), and Andy Scahill (Georgetown University). Between the play and the panel, you should be able to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the politics of zombies, but were too petrified to ask!
Skeptics may legitimately wonder how a mere law professor can rise (perhaps even rise from the dead) to the exalted status of certified zombie expert. It all goes back to my contribution to the recent book Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science, edited by law and economics scholars Glen Whitman and James Dow. My contribution to the volume, "Brain-Dead vs. Undead: Public Ignorance and the Political Economy of Responses to Vampires and Zombies," explains how widespread public ignorance undermines the effectiveness of government responses to the undead menace in stories as varied as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and and World War Z. As I discuss in the chapter, the dangerous public ignorance portrayed in numerous tales of the undead is an exaggerated, but often realistic version of the widespread political ignorance that haunts real-world democracies. Sadly, it affects political responses to real-world crises as well as (fortunately) mythical zombie invasions.