The Vampires Our Age Deserves: 21st Century Forms of Ancient Evil

Michael James Joyce


Traditionally, the peoples of Southeast Asia have held beliefs in numerous forms of vampires often crossed with ghosts or other spirits, such as Pontianak of the Malay Peninsula, Phi Krasue and Phi Pop of Thailand and the Aswang and Manananggal of the Philippines. These have been theorised as manifestations of fears and repressed aspects of life, including, previously, of dangers that lurk in the wilds surrounding villages. In modern times rumours of and belief in vampires persist and have moved to cities, but these tales are also joined by a more modern bloodsucker, the organ harvester. Poorly-sourced stories of dubious veracity circulate on Facebook feeds, warning parents to keep a close eye on their children lest they are snatched away and killed for their organs. This paper examines parallels between traditional vampire legends of Southeast Asia and current rumours of organ trafficking targeting children, and delves into some of the anxieties fuelling the contemporary stories, anxieties that ultimately spring from the region’s fraught reaction to Neoliberalism.

Keywords: Vampires, Southeast Asian vampires, Organ trafficking, Social media, Mythology, Neoliberalism


Vampires; Southeast Asian vampires; Organ trafficking; Social media; Mythology; Neoliberalism; Tropical Gothic; Gothic

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