The Rights of the Living Dead

Motson, Fred (2021). The Rights of the Living Dead. In: Critical Legal Conference (CLC) 2021: Frankenlaw, 2-4 Sep 2021, Dundee, Scotland.



A short story which follows a number of actors in the justice system in an alternate England a number of years after a zombie apocalypse. In the world of the story, the original zombie outbreak conformed to classic tropes of widespread death and destruction, with humans and zombies alike dying in considerable numbers. However, as months went by after the initial outbreak, increasingly it was realised that the undead had retained an element of intelligence and sentience. Now, ten years after the initial outbreak, zombies are begrudgingly accepted as part of society although considered by many to be less than human. The story explores issues of speciesism and how the legal system reacts (or fails to react) to “others”. It questions whether the inhuman or non-human should be considered a legal subject or merely subject to the law. The story is inspired by both my love of genre fiction and academic research I have been undertaking into the legal personality of animals and ecosystems.

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