Over the course of the past twenty-five years, as neoliberal economics has transformed the geopolitical landscape, monsters have overrun popular culture. This book explores literary, televisual, filmic and dramatic works from distant and diverse countries. It traces the vampire's evolution from the nineteenth-century past of industrial capitalism to the neoliberal present's accelerated violence and corrupt precarity, and discusses the NBC television mini-series Dracula, perfectly encapsulating our own post-recessionary subjectivity. The book addresses state capitalism but turns readers' attention away from the vampire and towards the ghost, focusing on the ways in which such spectral figures have come to dominate new German theatre. On the biotechnology sector, the book presents three examples: cinematic depictions of the international organ trade in Asia, the BAFTA award winning three-part series In the Flesh broadcast in BBC3, and literary representations of the dehumanised South African poor. The book moves from the global to the local, and charts the ways in which post-2006 house owners are trapped in the house by the current economic situation, becoming akin to its long-term resident ghosts. The ghost estates, reanimated and reimagined by the Irish artists and film-makers, are shown to embody the price paid locally for failures in global economic policy. The preoccupation with states of liminality is encapsulated by showing that the borders of the nation state have become a permeable membrane. Through this membrane, the toxic waste of first world technology seeps out alongside the murderous economic imperatives of the neoliberal agenda.
appeasement that champions public welfare whilst refusing to challenge
capitalism as a model.
Part I. Neoliberalgothic
Since its inception, the gothic
monster has provided a ready means of mobilising alterity discourses,
the abject otherness of the vampire, the werewolf and the zombie
enabling a critique of social norms and values, available models of
This chapter examines the figure of the vampire as symptomatic of contemporary neoliberal subjectivity and the way it relates to the current understanding of capitalist relations. The threat of the vampire represents fears of being deprived of life and opportunity, of losing in the neoliberal game. It is possible to argue that today those individuals who are able to adapt to the current state of affairs by playing the neoliberal game and sharpening their fangs against anyone who threatens their selfish interests are the survivors. Given the fact that neoliberal life is predicated on the freedom of consumer choice, the inability to participate due to inadequate financial income results in ostracism, aggression and violence. In this game of fangs only the fittest survive, and an ideology of Social Darwinism is perpetuated that seeks to exclude by spreading fear and polluting relations.
This chapter discusses how the contradictory field of forces set in motion by the unfolding economic crisis are articulated in the 2013 televised version of Dracula. Dracula provides a new outlet for the commodification of the vampire and the corporatisation of the gothic. The chapter argues that Dracula highlights not only the increasing humanisation of the vampire, but also a specifically post-recession, capitalism-weary environment caught between the need for simultaneous restoration of growth and austerity. The raunchy and explicit sex scenes in the Dracula bolster audiences' voyeuristic viewing pleasures. The scenes also reassert the vampire as an exceedingly erotic, insatiable creature whose bite will transform the victims into predatory but alluring vampires themselves. Adopting neoliberalism's entrepreneurial ethos of self-responsibility, self-care and determination, Dracula resolves to become the master of his own fate and engage in what Anthony Giddens calls the reflexive 'project of the self '.
Capitalising (on) ghosts in German postdramatic theatre
Postdramatic theatre attempts to stage the abstract, numinous financial structures of neoliberalism, capitalising on its ghosts in order to ground its own phantasmagorical formal experimentation. This chapter discusses the structural similarities and links between neoliberal financial models and postdramatic theatre. It analyses an early German response to the rise of neoliberal ideology and economics following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Heiner Muller's Germania 3.Gespenster am Toten Mann documents the expansion eastwards of western ideology from the perspective of a playwright from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). It develops an image of western consumerism and finance as a motor for new forms of haunting. It also analyses Dea Loher's later Manhattan Medea as an example of gothic postdramatic theatre that employs spectral figures to reproduce and critique the spectral financial models at the heart of an established global, neoliberal world order.
This chapter analyses the representation of organ harvesting and trade/trafficking in eight post-2000 Asian films. It discusses the films' consistent portrayal of transplantation as dependent on criminal networks and activities, and their critique of neoliberal medicine as responsible for deepening the economic divisions within Asian societies. Driven by market economy rather than ethics, neoliberal medicine sanctions sacrificing the disadvantaged for profit in the name of medical progress. The chapter offers a reading of the potentially gothic figures of vengeance appearing in the films in terms of a narrative strategy of resistance. Gothic figures of vengeance feature in many organ trade narratives. As the systematic acts of bio-violence are justified by the neoliberal State, which thrives on bio-power, the weak resort to weaving organ theft narratives as their strategy of resistance.
Dominic Mitchell's BAFTA award-winning three-part series In the Flesh was first broadcast on BBC3 in March 2013, with a second six-part series following in May 2014. This chapter argues that the series participates in the contemporary mass-cultural deployment of the zombie as a means of exposing and exploring the impact of neoliberal economics on the social and cultural organisation of the world and, in turn, the models of subjectivity available to its inhabitants. In its deployment of mad science, its depiction of the dungeons of Big Pharma's contemporary torture-house and the bleak wildness of the rain-lashed northern moors, in its broken urban estates and hellfire-preaching villages, In the Flesh undertakes a highly gothic queering of neoliberal England. Thus it interrogates both the contemporary state of the nation and the rights, responsibilities and subjectivity of us all.
Affect and ethics in fiction from neoliberal South Africa
Gothic as it is being written in postmillennial South Africa is a particularly engaged, particularly politically aware form of fiction-making. The monstrous, the horrifying and the weird (hallmarks of gothic narrative) are being mobilised in the post-apartheid culture of letters as one literary means through which to negotiate dissonant relationships with the neocolonial operation of neoliberal capital. Gothic seeks to occasion intense, sensory engagements with its readers and audiences, to the extent that it positions these as vulnerable or affectable. Fictions of this kind might offer us a means by which to begin a rerouting of the dehumanising principles of self-gain on which the logic of neoliberal capital is founded. In her Precarious Life, Judith Butler proposes that places of vulnerability constitute points from which an ethical mode of being might be projected.
This chapter argues that the tenets of neoliberalism that focus on privatisation and unfettered free market have their gothic manifestation in the representation of the relationship between the house and the family in the first season of American Horror Story. At the heart of the American Dream, as the outward and visible sign of upward mobility and prosperity that are its most basic principles, is the house. In popular culture, the Dream is generally constructed around a single image: the family home. But with the US mortgage crisis of 2008, certainties about how achievable the terms of the American Dream actually are began to slip away. This was due to the bottom fell out of the housing market and the loss of homes by families to banks and lenders. American Horror Story was first aired in the immediate aftermath of this real estate crisis.
From global economics to domestic anxiety in contemporary art practice
This chapter examines the ghost estate as the most compelling trope of the post-Celtic Tiger housing crisis in Ireland. It explores how this crisis of home exacerbates existing postcolonial anxieties around housing and security in Ireland to create these haunted estates, sites of anxiety that recall older Irish cultural memories of dispossession and ruin. The chapter looks at these estates as revenant spaces, as contemporary gothic homes that evoke spectral memories of past gothic homes that have appeared throughout Irish history. Uncanny, revenant, and traumatised, these spaces present and re-present themselves in Irish contemporary fine-art practice as site, as protagonist and as metaphor. The chapter focuses on the uneasy relationship between neoliberal economic policy and the Irish ghost estates. While examining how neoliberal economic policy construes home as commodity, it follows that when this commodity loses value, normative notions of comfort and security in relation to domesticity are consequently subverted.