Monster Talks 4: Halloween

File:Samhuinn Wikipedia editathon at University of Edinburgh editathon - 1st November 2016 05.jpg
Samhuinn Jack-o’-lantern. By Mihaela Bodlovic –, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image description: Three carved Jack-o’-lanterns, one in focus and two more blurry in the back. They have jagged, open mouths and look a little scary.

Why is it possible to consider the vampire and the zombie to be paradigmatic neoliberal monsters? What is the history of Halloween monstrousness? For our Halloween Special of Monster Talks, Sara Orning sat down with Mexitli Lopez, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oslo. Mexitli, has a long-standing interest in monsters and talked about her research at our Monster Network conference in Stavanger back in 2016, Promises of Monsters. She is currently writing her PhD dissertation on vampires and zombies in literature, film and television. Since Sara and Mexitli are now working on the same research project, BIODIAL: the Biopolitics of Disability, Illness and Animality, they wanted to get together to talk about some common ideas they have about the monster: how it may point to alternative ways of making community; how it points to a future that we don’t quite know what holds, and what representations of monstrousness may mean for how we relate to otherness in the “real” world. They are also addressing the long history of Halloween: how has that tradition been created through repeated layers of colonization and appropriation?

In the flesh 3
 Image description: Still from the TV series In the Flesh S1e1, created by Dominic Mitchell (BBC Three, 2013).
Text description: Kieren (who is a zombie/undead/Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer (PDSs)) wakes up from a flashback with a distraught look on his face. His skin is very pale, nearly white, and his pupils small and black.
Creepy witches fingers (paluszki wiedźmy), Sanok
By Silar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Image description: A basket full of cookies in the shape of creepy fingers, with blood running around pointy fingernails.

Monster Talks is a podcast series that explores the figure of the monster and the concept of the monstrous as important thinking tools for addressing dynamics of power, inclusion and exclusion, discrimination and violence. The podcast is made possible by the support of Nordic Culture Point and produced by The Monster Network in collaboration with Network for Gender Studies at UiS. All episodes are available from the podcast’s website at UiS.

Promises of Monsters


She studies this transformation through maps

European perceptions of human diversity


The first part sketches

the processes through

ambivalent space

for aging femininity  of


of the emphasis on the importance of maps



The child then flew into the Pine Barrens, becoming

an emancipated minor. After all, who can speak

for the monster, and in so doing who may be

silenced, and what facilitates a monstrous challenge or defiance

rather than reductive



To turn into waste means to lose worth, significance, or purpose. A later text of Derrida’s can perhaps account for this.


The text is littered with

horror film,

beautiful paintings,              drawings          and photographs,           recognition and acceptance             and       those who do not                  fit

aging,           disability,          and             AD,       books,      and  images,  negative attitudes                monstrous voices and monstrous spaces,  and  both

popular understanding and film.

filled with the poetry of Ursula Le Guin and the storytelling of Donna Haraway.


in          in          in                         in which

a    a    a    a

of  of  of  of


narratives intersect

generate generate generate


her book: a highly original

with on the one hand a, but on the other hand  –


and this integration of different sources

as she states in her introduction

may well be the most and convincing aspect


It is certainly an ambiguous time

It is certainly an ambiguous time

It is certainly an ambiguous time

in shaping  growing  hardening


for the monster

towards –



* This poem is a collage based on the Promises of Monsters special issue (2018, vol. 2, no. 2, edited by The Monster Network), created in an online writing meeting with two of the members of The Monster Network. The material for the collage was chosen with the method of rolling an electronic dice for a) article, b) page, c) sentence. This material (8 sentences) was then edited into a poem; a collective voice, a monster, that emerges from the issue, if you may.

The materials were found from the following texts (listed in random order):

  • E. J. Nielsen’s caption for Figure 20. The Jersey Devil
  • Agnieszka Kotwasińska: “Un/re/production of Old Age in The Taking of Deborah Logan”
  • The Monster Network (Hellstrand et al.): “Promises, Monsters and Methodologies: The Ethics, Politics and Poetics of the Monstrous”
  • Marietta Radomska: “Promises of Non/Living Monsters and Uncontainable Life”
  • Nicola Moffat: “Monstrous Promises: Performative Acts and Corporeality in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”
  • Donna McCormack’s review on Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (Tsing et al.)
  • “Monster Talk: A Virtual Roundtable with Mark Bould, Liv Bugge, Surekha Davies, Margrit Shildrick and Jeffrey Weinstock” (edited by Donna McCormack)
  • Erling Sandmo’s review on (Surekha Davies) Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters