Ecologies of blood in Johannesburg vampire fiction

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Safundi, Volume 17, Number 4, p.384–406 (2016)



blood, fantasy, Johannesburg, science fiction, vampire, whiteness


This essay reads two contemporary Johannesburg vampire narratives, the film Eternity (2010) and the graphic novel Rebirth (2012), as part of a body of fiction that sees post-apartheid Johannesburg as a laboratory for new forms of life. While recent Johannesburg science fiction has imagined the emergence of new and more fluid forms of being in Johannesburg, the vampire narrative employs a far older and more restrictive type of monster. By virtue of its intimate relationship to blood – with its mythical overtones of racial and national essence – and its peculiarly blank and limited form of being, the vampire is a productive figure for imagining whiteness. In this essay, I examine how the Johannesburg vampire registers the mutations of whiteness in the post-apartheid context. Located in a contaminated and contaminating city of hidden capillaries and networks, vampiric blood runs across and perforates the traditional blood bonds of race, family, and nation. Indeed, dependent on a precarious and potentially diseased resource, the Johannesburg vampire is always on the cusp of dissolving the very whiteness it figures. I am interested in the way in which these vampire narratives alternately reinforce and interrogate what I call the politics of prolongation; that is, in the ways in which their horizontal and entangled “haemopoetics” attempt to displace the genealogical poetics of blood that have traditionally suffused the colonial enterprise and its literature.

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