The Entangled Times of COVID, Climate, and Race in the US Reading the “Heterotemporality” of Colson Whitehead's Zone One

Crownshaw, Richard. 2023. The Entangled Times of COVID, Climate, and Race in the US Reading the “Heterotemporality” of Colson Whitehead's Zone One. In: Sibylle Baumbach and Birgit Neumann, eds. Temporalities in/of Crises of Anglophone Literatures. New York: Routledge, pp. 61-79. ISBN 9781003348122 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

For many in the Global North, the lockdown during Covid-19 was experienced as an undifferentiated present, dislocated from the past and the future. For others it was a time of institutionalised racism violently expressed and emblematised by the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The mass protests that followed, particularly when focused on Confederacy statuary throughout the American South, invoked historical memories of slavery, but the political urgency of remembrance not unreasonably precludes the wider, planetary, and ecological contexts of racialised catastrophe. Debates over the inception of the Anthropocene, our new geological epoch, have centred on the geological epoch’s beginnings in the colonisation of the New World and the institution of slavery. In other words, the racial violence of the present has not just been long in the making but is part of a planetary transition. The pandemic itself is a consequence of that transition: the Anthropocene’s entanglement of the natural and cultural world and the resultant zoonoses. This chapter explores the temporal imaginary orchestrated by Colson Whitehead’s post-apocalyptic zombie novel Zone One (2011), about another form of contagion, to reflect on the dynamics of recent US cultural remembrance and the heterotemporality of the pandemic rather than its homogenous empty time.

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in ‘Temporalities in/of Crises of Anglophone Literatures’ on 7 August 2023, available online: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way."

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English and Comparative Literature


7 August 2023Published

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28 Feb 2024 13:50

Last Modified:

28 Feb 2024 15:36


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