Indigenous-Settler Relationships in the Zombie Apocalypse

A review of Blood Quantum (2019)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Blood Quantum, like many zombie movies, is a commentary on consumption. The movie explores the idea of a zombie outbreak that Indigenous people are immune from. It is a powerful commentary on settler-Indigenous relationships, exploring historic and continual settler violence toward Indigenous people, played out in literal acts of attacks, as well as exploring the over-consumption by settlers and settler disruptions of the natural world. The zombies are defined both by their whiteness and their consumptive nature.

When the zombie apocalypse takes hold, indigenous people form their own community and the remaining white settlers need to rely on Indigenous protection for their continual survival. Settlers continue to be a risk, and their uncertain status triggers divisions among the Indigenous survivors, leading to violence within the community. Whiteness is fraught with complexity for the surviving Indigenous community, continuing to cause disruption and uncertainty.

Blood Quantum provides a powerful narrative about continuing colonial violence and over-consumption, using the figure of the zombie to explore relationships to the landscape and conservatorship.

Special thanks to Angie Knowlton and Taela Smith for editing support

Reviewed by Derek Newman-Stille (They/Them) MA, PhD ABD

Derek Newman-Stille

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