Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

“When you die, you will live”: Dystopia , Posthumanism and Zombies in the Mall Rats Series by Lily Herne

Margeaux Bernadette Erasmus


Zombies have become prominent figures in popular culture in the twenty-first century. Books, movies and series are all fascinated with the walking dead and the possible meanings of the figure. International portrayals of zombies raise concerns about a lack of self-control; by contrast, this paper argues that Lily Herne’s Mall Rats series, which is about a zombie outbreak in South Africa, explores posthumanist associations with the dead. The philosophical approach of posthumanism can be used to question the ideas and conceptualisation of human identity. While humanism places humans at the centre of the universe, both in control of and separate from other living, animal and non-human beings, posthumanism acknowledges that this is only a myth. According to posthuman thought, human subjectivity is created through a connection to animal and non-human beings; it is an assemblage that co-evolves with all living beings on the planet. Thus, posthumanism can be used to study the representations of human identity that have been used to situate the human above other life forms. Herne depicts this posthuman subjectivity through her South African zombies categorised as Rotters and Guardians whose thoughts and emotions are connected with each other, animals and humans. It is this connection to all things that Herne proposes will end any form of discrimination. As it becomes more and more uncomfortable for the reader to side with zombie slayers, the posthumanist objective is realised as traditional beliefs that humans are somehow superior and more conscious than other beings on Earth come into question.


Deadlands; Lily Herne; posthumanism; zombies; young adult dystopian fiction; South African fiction; Mall Rats series; apocalypse

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.