The Adivasi and the undead: From (post)colonial carnage to Necrocene apocalypse in Betaal (2020)

In a new article in "Journal of Postcolonial Writing", Johan Höglund shows how the 2020 Indian Netflix zombie miniseries Betaal aligns British colonial-capitalist oppression with the neocolonial-capitalist violence performed by Indian soldiers on India’s indigenous Adivasi community.

Merging the (post)colonial with the post-apocalyptic in spectacular and violent ways, Betaal tells the story of elimination of an Adivasi community that resists capitalist exploitation of their lands, accidentally releasing a pandemic in the form of undead British soldiers once in the employ of the East India Company. The extractive violence that these two entities perform destroys not only people and traditions, it exhausts the land itself and can thus be considered an element of what Justin McBrien calls “the Necrocene”. The zombie pandemic that erupts in Betaal is an attempt to render the apocalyptic violence and death that unregulated capitalism performs on ecology and precarious communities.