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Recent work in human geography seems to support Roger Luckhurst's (2002) claim that the humanities and social sciences are undergoing a `spectral turn'. This paper is intended as a contribution to this `turn' and to assist those who might be interested in investigating haunting. It begins by discussing the meaning and value of ideas of haunting, identifying a number of ways in which it makes analysis productively hesitant. Second, since hauntings usually involve attempts to represent the unrepresentable, we would like to offer a practical guide for locating these awkward moments of hesitancy. Drawing upon a number of examples from films, literature and life we will discuss some of the ways in which ghosts may be made manifest, textually and materially. We will conclude by suggesting that in being hesitant and embracing indeterminacy we might open up new and potentially productive apprehensions of haunted spaces and the enchanting energetics that are particular to them.
Locating haunting: a ghost-hunter’s
Julian Holloway and James Kneale
Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester
Metropolitan University, Department of Geography, University College London
Recent work in human geography seems to support Roger Luckhurst’s (2002) claim that the humanities and
social sciences are undergoing a ‘spectral turn’. This paper is intended as a contribution to this ‘turn’ and to
assist those who might be interested in investigating haunting. It begins by discussing the meaning and value
of ideas of haunting, identifying a number of ways in which it makes analysis productively hesitant. Second,
since hauntings usually involve attempts to represent the unrepresentable, we would like to offer a practical
guide for locating these awkward moments of hesitancy. Drawing upon a number of examples from films,
literature and life we will discuss some of the ways in which ghosts may be made manifest, textually and
materially. We will conclude by suggesting that in being hesitant and embracing indeterminacy we might open
up new and potentially productive apprehensions of haunted spaces and the enchanting energetics that are
particular to them.
Keywords: enchantment • ghosts • ghost stories • haunting • spiritualism
his paper is offered as something of a practical guide to those interested in the geogra-
phies of haunting and spectrality. As Steve Pile points out, ‘To be alert to the ghost –
and the presence of ghosts – requires a particular kind of seeing’ and with this in mind we
hope to provide some encouragement, and a few useful intellectual resources, to investigators
of haunting.
We will do this through an examination of two different kinds of materials
associated with the spectral: ghost stories and spiritualist séances. What unites our engage-
ment with these very different kinds of evidence is that both struggle with the problem of
representing the unrepresentable, and that they do this in what we would argue are ultimately
highly productive ways. Ghosts are hard to get to grips with, and thinking about the efforts
of other ghost-hunters, both real and imagined, to bear witness to haunting offers a few clues
about the kinds of ways we might go about materializing the spectral.
It is obvious that geographers and others are increasingly interested in ghosts and haunt-
ing – a sign of what Roger Luckhurst has described as a ‘spectral turn’ in the humanities and
social sciences.
Of course there are different ways in which we might engage with ghosts.
Within literary and cultural studies there has been a tendency to see them as an index of
something else: for example, Rosemary Jackson writes that fantasy expresses a culture’s fears
and taboos, both in the sense of representing them and in expelling them when they threaten
its stability.
Robert Mighall points out the flaws in this ‘anxiety model’ in his discussion of
critical analyses of the vampire: ‘a tautology operates which insists that the vampire is erotic,
and because it is monstrous this testifies to sexual anxieties which the critic then identifies’.
cultural geographies 2008 15: 297–312
© 2008 SAGE Publications 10.1177/1474474008091329
cultural geographies 15(3)
In this kind of analysis, ghosts are mysteries that must be solved, although they are not sig-
nificant in their own right.
Other writers have made more of an effort to get to grips with haunting. Stimulated in
part by Derrida’s Spectres of Marx, and by work on affective and emotional senses of attach-
ment to place (fear, guilt, loss, rage), this work has sought to make productive sense of the
absent, mysterious and terrifying aspects of modern life. For Avery Gordon, the ghost can
represent a past tragedy or injustice, and our encounter with it might lead to a new engage-
ment with the present. The disinterring of the colonial past in countries like Australia is a
good example of this kind of productive encounter with the spectres of past traumas, mak-
ing the taken-for-granted world uncanny. The refugee or exile remembering home, or return-
ing only to find it changed forever is similarly haunted. We might also be spooked by the
traces of those who have gone before us not because we sense a tragedy or loss but pre-
cisely because we know so little about them. Both houses and second-hand clothing can
appear to be haunted by those who used to inhabit them, according to Daniel Miller, Nicky
Gregson, Kate Brooks and Louise Crewe. Cities appear to be exemplary haunted sites, as Pile
makes clear, because they are anonymous but highly charged spaces. Nigel Thrift suggests
that we are haunted by ‘apparitions which are the unintended consequences of the complex-
ity of modern cities, cities in which multiple time-spaces are being produced, which overlap,
interact, and interfere’. Finally, John Wylie, through a reading of the work of W. G. Sebald
via Derrida, argues that haunting as a motif displaces notions of place as dwelling and
authentic identity.
This complexity can sometimes leave us uncertain as to what is going on in cities and
place. And uncertainty can also be identified as a key element of fantastic fictions, including
ghost stories. Lucie Armitt’s reading of Tzvetan Todorov’s work on the fantastic suggests that
texts like these can encourage a hesitant response in the reader, who struggles to decide
whether the account is true or not. The fantastic might force us ‘to hesitate between a nat-
ural and a supernatural explanation of the events described’.
Of course for some critics this
hesitation is simply an expression of the indeterminacy of literature and language; again the
ghost is in danger of being reduced to an expression of something else, in this case a post-
structuralist critique of mimetic theories of representation. And while ghosts can be very
useful in this way, they might still possess something else besides. So we are happier with the
idea of ghosts as traces of the unknown or unknowable than as a kind of puzzle, standing
in for something else, something more important. Like Pile, we think that ‘ghosts are not
coherent’, that they can mean many things at once: ‘just like an element in a dream, the
figure of the ghost is overdetermined – pointing in many different directions at once’.
We would also like to suggest that ghosts can be enchanting. Jane Bennett argues that
despite appearances, modern life contains sites where we may be enchanted, surprised,
charmed and disturbed. We can learn to look for these sites and to encourage this response
in ourselves; more importantly she argues that ‘to some small but irreducible extent, one
must be enamored with existence and occasionally even enchanted in the face of it in
order to be capable of donating some of one’s own scarce mortal resources to the serv-
ice of others’. In other words, we need to feel this way because it encourages us to engage
with the world; ‘it is too hard to love a disenchanted world’. Can looking for ghosts help
us to do this?
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
In order to explore this question we offer a guide to ghost-hunting through a discussion
of two different ways in which ghosts manifest themselves or are made manifest: first, the
textual and second, the material. In both examples we concentrate on previous attempts to
investigate hauntings. We then conclude with a brief discussion of the value of taking a hesi-
tant approach to ghost-hunting. Here we argue that this hesitancy retains both the particu-
larity of spectral spaces and the enchanting force that ghosts perform.
Textual manifestations
We want to begin by suggesting that those interested in haunting and spectrality might look
in one of the places where these manifestations tend to be quite common: the ghost story.
This section of the paper therefore presents three ghost stories to consider how haunting
works in these kinds of narratives. The first concerns a tragic, vengeful ghost; in the second
a suburban house is invaded by something uncanny; and in the last a mysterious object haunts
two experts. The first has something to say about the attachment of haunting to people and
places, and points out that we cease to fear ghosts when we understand their reasons for
haunting. The second and third examples develop this to show how disclosure and detection
are central to many tales of haunting, though a troubling or enchanting excess often remains.
The first of our three stories is a recent Spanish/Mexican horror film.
El espinazo del diablo
(The devil’s backbone) is set in an isolated, and haunted, Spanish boy’s school during the Civil
War. During the opening sequence Casares, one of the teachers, asks:
What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something
dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect
trapped in amber.
Casares is not alone in thinking this way. Both fiction makers and real ghost-hunters have
suggested that places and objects might somehow hold or store emotions, memories or even
consciousness. Nigel Kneale’s BBC TV drama The stone tapes suggests that powerful emotions
might be recorded in the stones of old buildings.
In the real world, ‘Earth Mysteries’ writers
and parapsychologists like T. C. Lethbridge, Paul Devereux and Don Robins have suggested
that ‘a kind of psychic record may be imprinted on a location, perhaps because of some vio-
lence or strong emotion generated there’.
Natural materials might also carry these ‘record-
ings’ even when they are no longer part of a landscape: Robins suggested that the apparition
that seemed to haunt a pair of mysterious sculptures known as the ‘Hexham Heads’ was
somehow encoded into their crystalline structure.
Irrespective of the likelihood of this,
haunting often represents a return of some sort, with ghosts coming back to attend to unfin-
ished business, or because the wrongs done to them have not been redressed.
This is certainly true of El espinazo del diablo. In the ‘making-of’ documentary the director says
‘I think a ghost is something waiting to happen. So… that’s what the film is about… things wait-
ing to happen’.
So the plot is partly about vengeance, the working out of the consequences of
a past tragedy, with the inevitability of this creating some of the tension even before we know
anything about past events. Pile suggests that ghosts disrupt temporality because they represent
‘an undisclosed injustice – a death, a haunting: a tragedy for which there is not yet a history.
cultural geographies 15(3)
But we would want to suggest that a ghost does not have to be ‘a tragedy condemned to
repeat itself time and again’, ‘an insect trapped in amber’. That suggests that ghosts are fol-
lowing a script, recordings playing mechanically. If a ghost is something waiting to happen,
then it might well be something existing in the virtual, a source of energies and possibilities.
Instead of replaying its tragedy every time, each haunting might offer something new, a form
of ‘spiral’ – rather than bare – repetition, in the Deleuzian terms discussed by Bennett. While
the ghost may haunt the same places in the same way, each haunting is different because it
concerns different observers, and produces different relationships between ghost and
observers; ‘each turn of the spiral enters into a new and distinctive assemblage’. And of
course the ghost in El espinazo del diablo does eventually manage to make things happen.
So while the film suggests that the ghost is ‘something dead that appears to be alive’, we
prefer to think of it as something alive that appears to be dead. Disturbing ghosts, bringing them
back to some sort of life, is one of the aims of this paper. And it has important implica-
tions for the politics of haunting, because ghost stories can be strangely comforting. This is
clearly the case for El espinazo del diablo. It is a very scary film, at least at first, but something
happens as we learn more about the ghost and its motives. We become sympathetic towards
it, and it ceases to scare us as much as it did when we first encountered it. In fact knowing
why a ghost haunts is one way of loosening its hold over us. Once it can be narrated it
ceases to be a mystery or threat. Which is why we want to sound a note of caution about
investigations of haunting: they might exorcise our object away altogether. We want to think
about how this might happen and suggest an alternative.
Strangely enough, perhaps, ghost and detective stories can be quite similar, and this resem-
blance is not simply a formal one. If haunting is associated with uncertainty, hesitancy, and
the uncanny, then it also represents an opportunity to understand and come to terms with
mystery. Noel Carroll notes that ‘The point of the horror genre… is to exhibit, disclose, and
manifest that which is, putatively in principle, unknown and unknowable’. As a consequence
horror narratives revolve around the point of disclosure, of ‘rendering the unknown known’.
The dramatic appearance of the phantom, or the discovery of an unknown presence are
examples of this kind of disclosure. This process of disclosure is often played out in the
text as ‘a conflict of interpretations’ and ‘a deliberation about this conflict in terms of a rati-
ocination, the drama of proof, and the play of competing hypotheses’.
The story’s charac-
ters, and its reader, debate the likelihood or unlikelihood of the haunting. Hesitancy is
followed by disclosure, discussion, and explanation. The monster becomes visible; the ghost
is laid to rest.
Similarly, Todorov pointed out that detective fictions involve two narratives: the first is the
narrative of detection and the second is the narrative of the mystery itself.
The story of the
detective’s investigation of a mystery uncovers and pieces together another, earlier narrative –
what really happened and ‘whodunnit’. A cliché of this kind of story has the detective gather
the protagonists together in order to reconstruct the events and present the solution. Ghost
stories often possess a similar double narrative; a haunting or mysterious set of events is
explained, at least partially, when a past event comes to light. Yet making sense of haunting
denies it the enchanting charge that probably provoked our interest in it in the first place.
So we want to suggest that in our investigations into haunting we might usefully take heed
of our fictional predecessors, but that we should also stop short of making ghosts make
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
sense. In order to do this we want to consider two brief examples from the golden age of
the British ghost story.
One of the best examples of the similarity between ghost stories and detection comes
from the work of Algernon Blackwood (1869–1951), the author of horrific and fantastic fic-
tion. Blackwood’s Dr Silence, a ‘psychic doctor’, featured in five extremely popular tales in
John Silence – physician extraordinary (1908) and one in Day and night stories (1917). Seemingly
modelled on Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Silence discusses cases with his clients in his
consulting room, visits the sites of cases, and is meticulous in his reasoned investigations.
However, he is also well versed in the occult, reflecting Blackwood’s own interest in psychic
research and occultism.
The first of the Silence stories, ‘A psychical invasion’, concerns a haunted house in Putney,
in Londons suburbs. Its tenant has apparently taken an ‘overdose’ of cannabis and this has
somehow encouraged a psychic presence to invade his home. Dr Silence sets out to investi-
gate the house. The tenant has not actually seen the entity; it remains thoroughly immaterial
and invisible, though its impossible presence terrifies him. Silence realizes that while he may
not be able to sense this entity himself he might be able to witness the haunting indirectly,
using a cat and a dog as ‘barometers’.
He believed (and had already made curious experiments to prove it) that animals were more often, and more
truly, clairvoyant than human beings. Many of them, he felt convinced, possessed powers of perception far
superior to that mere keenness of the senses common to all dwellers in the wilds where the senses grow
specially alert. Cats, in particular, he believed, were almost continuously conscious of a larger field of vision, too
detailed even for a photographic camera, and quite beyond the reach of normal human organs. He had, further,
observed that while dogs were usually terrified in the presence of such phenomena, cats on the other hand were
soothed and satisfied. He selected his animals, therefore, with wisdom so that they might afford a differing test,
each in its own way, and that one should not merely communicate its own excitement to the other. He took a
dog and a cat.
Silence’s careful, one might almost say scientific, use of these animal barometers helps him
find and repel this psychic invader. In fact it is reminiscent of the subtle (though inanimate)
devices employed by investigators like Harry Price (who we will return to later), and in fact
Dr Robert Morris, a Kentucky parapsychologist, apparently noted the different reactions of
a dog, a cat, a rattlesnake and a rat in his investigation of a haunted house in the 1960s.
But Silence is also interested in the history of the house; as with most haunted houses, from
the classic Gothic stories to Danny Miller’s Edwardian semi, it is previous inhabitants who
haunt us. At the end of the story Silence reveals something of the evil history of the woman
who used to live there; this is a good example of the twin narrative as the earlier story that
Silence has recovered makes sense of the haunted house mystery.
This is also obvious in our third story, ‘The red hand’ (1897) by Arthur Machen (1863–1947).
The story concerns the investigation of a murder in Clerkenwell, London, by two friends who
propose rival explanations for its bizarre nature. Phillips, a sober ethnologist and archaeolo-
gist, cannot believe that there is anything supernatural about the case at all, while Dyson,
a writer who shares Machens own mysticism, is prepared to consider the most outré explan-
ations. Between them they play out Carroll’s ‘drama of proof ’, as so many other fictional duos
have done when faced with the fantastic, from the protagonists of H. P. Lovecraft’s ‘The
cultural geographies 15(3)
unnamable’ to The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully.
Despite Dysons willingness to entertain the
prospect that ‘there are sacraments of evil as well as good amongst us’ he solves the case by
the application of rational deduction.
Phillips, on the other hand, is hampered by his refusal
to believe that ‘the troglodyte and the lake-dweller… may very probably be lurking in our
midst’, and can only follow Dysons investigation much as Watson follows Holmes.
makes the mystery make sense, just as Dr Silence does. And when the case is finally solved
we are presented with a story that makes some sense of what has gone before, just as Silence
is able to recover the truth of the haunting by reconstructing an earlier story.
But there is something excessive about the presences haunting London in both of these
stories. The animals that Silence uses as his barometers only provide hints as to the nature
of the mysterious entity: the cat rubs itself against the legs of the invisible intruder, which
shows us that it is there without letting us know what it is.
This is of course a classic exam-
ple of what Rosemary Jackson describes as ‘non-signification’ in horror fictions.
Salomon refers to this as the ‘problem of witnessing’: ‘how to naturalize such narrative
enough to make it credible without limiting the implications of issues raised and thus explain-
ing away the horror’.
Horror and fantastic fictions are full of such almost-presences, from
the invisible ‘Damned Thing’ in Ambrose Bierce’s story of the same name (1893), whose
movements can only be detected as it disturbs long grass or blots out the stars in the night
sky, to E. F Benson’s ‘The chippendale mirror’ (1915), which replays the scene of a murder
over and over again, and the Invisible Man of both H. G. Wells’ novel (1897) and James
Whale’s film (1933).
At one point in El espinazo del diablo the ghost is invisible but leaves
wet footprints behind it as it walks. There are similar limits to Silence’s scientific approach
to the haunting; he becomes worried because the dog appears to be terrified, though he
admits to himself ‘that it was really impossible for him to gauge the animal’s sensations prop-
erly at all’.
In other words it proves quite difficult to calibrate his barometers.
Similarly, in Machens story Dyson is troubled by a clue he discovers, a stone known as
the ‘black heaven’, carved with ‘inscrutable’ characters. When Phillips offers to try to make
sense of these glyphs, Dyson says: ‘take the thing away with you and make what you can of
it. It has begun to haunt me; I feel as if I had gazed too long into the eyes of the Sphinx’.
Phillips also fails to decipher the symbols (despite having formulated ‘thirty-seven rules for
the solution of inscriptions’) and agrees, ‘I yearn to be rid of this small square of blackish
stone. It has given me an ill week’. Something about the stone haunts them both, and it
seems that this is only partly because the inscription remains unsolvable.
And the two
friends are shown another disturbing object at the end of the story, when they have iden-
tified the murderer, who presents it to explain something of his motives. We are told that
‘Phillips and Dyson cried out together in horror at the revolting obscenity of the thing’,
which is then not described further.
These mysterious objects do not become straightfor-
wardly meaningful despite the solving of the murder; in fact the uncovering of the original
story simply opens up another, and much more profound, mystery. This tension is obvious
from Machens other stories, as S. T. Joshi points out:
one could easily imagine Machen writing an accomplished detective novel; but of course he would never have
done so, for the notion of resolving all loose ends, and thereby emphasising the rational intellect’s understanding
of the world, was anathema to Machen, the religious mystic.
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
This tension between investigation and mystery seems a rather fruitful one, and is also vis-
ible in historical attempts to manifest ghosts. We turn now to our second set of examples.
Material manifestations
So far we have explored the ways in which ghosts and haunting are disclosed and made sense
of through the narratives of supernatural and horror fiction. In this section we wish to fur-
ther explore this process of disclosure and, in particular, the excess of ghostly manifestations.
Here we dwell upon the interaction between the ghostly immateriality and the spectral trans-
formation of different objects, bodies and spatialities. Indeed, one of the ways in which geog-
raphers have sought to understand the spectrality of space and contribute to broader debates
on spectrality, is through the ghostly rendering of space, objects and embodiment. For exam-
ple, Pile explores how various architectures of the city are haunted by multiple phantoms: as
he puts it, ‘[t]he spirits of the dead become a part of the very fabric of the city, woven into
its physicality, such that the sidewalks and stairwells become spectral, attached in some way,
to the spirits of the spirits – like a shadow cast by the body of reality’.
Here it is the very
substance and the concreteness of the city and urban space which bring forth ghosts and
haunting. As such the intertwining of the material with the immaterial registers a disruption
or dislocation of the ordinariness of different spatialities. The involuntary and often unset-
tling recollections which occur in such spaces involve the transformation and destabilization
of the very mundanity of materially ordered space. In other words, haunted spaces concern
the disruption of the normalized affordances of objects (i.e. how they enable and constrain
‘taken-for-granted’ modes of action and practice) and their attendant spatialities: mundane
practices with and towards objects are shifted and the habitualized sense we make of objects
is disrupted such that the configuration of materiality, space and bodies show up and are
enabled in new and unexpected ways.
Arguably, then what we are dealing with when a space
becomes haunted is the disruption or dislocation of normalized configurations and afford-
ances of materiality, embodiment and space.
We would like to explore this argument further through the example of spiritualism.
Originating primarily in the mid-nineteenth century, spiritualism was a transatlantic movement
that held it was possible to contact and communicate with the spirits of the dead through
the central space of the séance.
Here the medium, skilled in communicating with the
deceased, plus other believers and invited guests gathered round (usually) a table, linked hands
and waited for signs of contact. The manner of this contact came in different forms.
Beginning with simple knocks or ‘raps’ on the séance table, as the nineteenth century pro-
gressed ‘spirit lights’ were witnessed, mediums ‘apported’ different objects from ‘the other
side’ (often petals of flowers) and began to materialize body parts such as spirits hands, faces
and limbs, reaching its ultimate conclusion in fully embodied materializations (first performed
in 1873 with the manifestation of ‘Katie King’ by the medium Florence Cook). The follow-
ing example, under the mediumship of Evan Powell, is typical of séance reports:
We had spirit lights, the Direct Voice, and movement of objects. My face was brushed by spirit drapery, and a
flower was placed in my hand… A small table was lifted out of the cabinet and pressed against a lady sitter,
whose handbag was taken from her and placed on the table.
cultural geographies 15(3)
Most common to the performance of the séance was the registering of spirit communica-
tion through the movement of different objects. In particular, spiritualism became known by
the short-hand of ‘table-tipping’, whereby the table round which sitters gathered moved,
rocked and tilted to reveal the presence and record the message of the spirits. Here, under
the mediumship of J. R. M Squire, a Dr Robertson records such phenomena:
The raps on the dining table were loud, frequent and intelligent, i.e. they responded to the wish of the medium,
imitating his raps, rapping the numbers requested and giving responses by the alphabet to questions put…The
dining table, a large heavy oak table, 5 feet by 7 feet, was frequently lifted up and moved about the room, and
this not by any of the four persons present. Again, a writing table on which the four witnesses seated themselves
was twice tilted over with a strange unearthly facility, and they landed on the floor.
And from ‘an inquirer’ William Overton, reporting on a séance held in Bethnal Green,
London, in 1868:
The room was darkened only about a minute when the raps commenced. During the evening, the large loo table,
weighing about 100 lbs, was lifted from the floor several feet, and, I think, would have gone up to the ceiling if
there had not been a gas chandelier in the way. The table was held suspended for some seconds at a time, wav-
ing to and fro as if it had been only a feather, and the hands of two present were forcibly pulled off by what
appeared to them the hand of a giant.
In the séance therefore, and the spiritualist movement more generally, the ghost is registered
and disclosed through the transportation of objects and material artefacts. Indeed, this materi-
alization is one which shifts and alters the affordance of an object in that the normal pos-
sibilities for action engendered by a table are disrupted by its registering of the ghost.
Furthermore, this movement and physical shifting of objects is one that makes different the
normalized spatiality of things: registering the ghostly displaces and dislocates material geog-
raphies. This disruption occurs precisely through the disordering of how space and its object
relations come to be known through practice. This making strange of the affordance of the
object and its attendant spatiality is arguably unsettling: no longer in their place, no longer
offering their normal course of practicable action, dislocated ghostly materialities disrupt our
senses of space. In other words, the familiar object-spaces that endure through habitual prac-
tice are made strange and mysterious. Ghosts and spirits lend what we like to deem an uncanny
affordance to material geographies. When the normalized and familiar possibilities for action
proffered by an object are made strange and unfamiliar our practiced senses of space are
disrupted and refigured, displaced and dislocated.
The uncanny affordances of displaced materialities offer up different and contingent
affectual registers. These disorientating modes of affect are transversal in that different lines
of sensation transect and cross in often contingent ways through the bodies of the sitters
and the relations between objects and the participants. This transversal affect emerges out of
the different relations between bodies, objects and the sensual apprehension of this relational
One of the key loci in this affective relationality was the comportment and body
of the medium: often entering a trance-like state in order to become the conduit for the
spirits to communicate, the medium enacted a form of what can be deemed spectral embod-
iment. This, as many spiritualist commentators pointed out, was a corporeality that required
not only a particular sensitivity (gendered and patriarchal assumptions meant that women
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
were often deemed the best and most appropriate mediums), but also a degree of discipline
and calibration of the body. As one mid-Victorian commentator explains:
The gift of mediumship requires developing by constant sitting, in the same way that a musical or an artistic tal-
ent requires to be cultivated; and a person can therefore no more expect to be a proficient instrumentalist with-
out previous practice.
Indeed not all those who attempted this corporeal practice achieved it, as we can see in this
example from a Mr T. M. Simkiss reporting to the London Dialectical Society in 1873:
I am not myself a medium in the common acceptation of the term, though I have tried to become one. I have
tried in a variety of ways to see, hear or feel spirits myself…by sitting alone in the dead of night for many hours
in a room that was used for some years exclusively for the purposes of spirits and mediums…but with no appar-
ent effect.
Thus the ability to disclose the ghostly and perform this mode of spectral embodiment relied
upon skill and somewhat intangible characteristics of ‘the gift’ or ‘sensitivity’. As such, medium-
ship was a contingent performance, not always successfully enacted, and derived through a
varying and mysterious assemblage of practice, affect and corporeality.
The haunted space of the séance derives from the uncanny affordance of materialities and
the manifestation of the ghost through transformed affect and embodiment. These processes
unsettle sedimented practices of materiality, embodiment and the expectations of how cer-
tain spaces show up. This unsettling or making unfamiliar of the familiar is at the heart of
Freudian notions of the uncanny wherein the sudden and disruptive return of repressed and
unconscious anxieties to consciousness, produces sensations of dread, fear and even horror.
Placing aside the spectral notion of the unconscious upon which this theory is based we
would argue that the space of the séance, and its uncanny affordances and modes of spec-
tral embodiment, do not always produce affectual registers of dread and fear.
Certainly in
the early days of the spiritualist movement these sorts of sensations would have been
uncanny to the degree they produced horror in the sitters. Here an anonymous ‘Honourable
Lady’ reports to the London Dialectical Society concerning such sensations, enacted in a
séance under the famous medium, Daniel Dunglas Home:
We were seated in a partially darkened room. We first heard raps and then saw a human figure at the window. It
entered and several other figures came trooping after it. One of them waved its hands. The atmosphere became
fearfully cold. A figure which I recognised as that of a deceased relative, came behind my chair, leaned over me,
and brushed lightly my hair with its hand. It seemed about eight feet high…But the most extraordinary thing of
all was the laughter. One of us said something and all the spirits laughed with joy. The sound was indescribably
strange, and it appeared to us as it came from the ground.
Yet as the movement progressed and séances became more commonplace, horror and fear
of the strange often gave way to sensations of reassurance, comfort and even delight. For
spiritualists the defamiliarization of a dislocated table engendered belief in the reality of the
other world (often circumscribed as a utopian ‘elsewhere’ of emancipation and freedom for
all) and offered hope and guarantee that loved-ones had passed safely. In a period where the
spatial relations of distance, proximity and bodily boundaries were being opened up by the
uncanny possibilities of the telegraph, communication between the ‘two worlds’ through
cultural geographies 15(3)
the supernatural displacement of, and ‘raps’ on, tables became a source of both opportunity
and warmth. As Jeffrey Sconce puts it, ‘each time a medium manifested occult telepresence,
be it through rappings or spirit voices, planchette readings or automatic writing, she [sic] pro-
vided indexical evidence of a social stage continually displaced and deferred that held the
promise of a final paradise.
Sometimes unsettling in their intensity, but often culminating in feelings of assurance and
even delight and humour, séances could be orientating or disorientating, or both. Thus
séances were always contingent spaces caught up in different charged orientations towards
belief or incredulity, mystery or rational explanation. However, consistently emerging through
the event of the sèance, for both spiritualists and other sitters, were a series of imponder-
able moments and instants of undecidability. This lack of knowability of what or who was
rearticulating the familiar spatial and practical fields of both objects and bodies gave these
spectral geographies their particular resonance. As one nineteenth-century commentator
describes, ‘as the operators are invisible, it is impossible to say how they effect this object.
Castle eloquently expresses the undecidability of spectrality when referring to the phantas-
magoria shows of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries:
The subliminal power of the phantasmagoria lay in the fact that it induced in the spectator a kind of madden-
ing, irrational perception: one might believe ghosts to be illusions, present ‘in the minds-eye’ alone, but one experi-
enced them here as real entities, existing outside of the boundary of the psyche. The overall effect was unsettling –
like seeing a real ghost.
The ‘not-quite-there-ness’ of spectrality, manifested in shifting objects and bodies, renders
space unfamiliar and unsettling. The unsettling nature of this repositioning emerges through
lack of security of what actually causes the transformation. For some sitters the unsettling
moment of hesitation was resolved and gave way to different explanations: for many enrolled
into the spiritualist movement the disruption of certainty became expressions of the ‘reality’
or ‘truth’ of the spirit world, while for others hesitancy was transformed into the need to
expose fraudulent mediums or disclose the supposed dysfunctional medical bases for medium-
As such both sets of séance goers seek to represent the séance as expressions of
something else and resolve their hesitancy in the face of undecidability. Yet in dispelling hesi-
tancy through decidability, we would argue, is to dispel the particular instants of excessive
resonance that orchestrate spectral geographies. Indeed, it is this sense of being caught up
in a surge of indeterminacy which gives spectral space its particular tone and its potentiality –
two characteristics of haunted space we wish to explore as we conclude.
Conclusions: hesitancy, spectrality and enchanted
One of the defining characteristics of the history of ghosts and haunting has been the many
attempts to dissipate undecidability and make the unfamiliarity of spectrality familiar again.
In various ways these represent attempts to control and bring fully into representation the
absent-presence of ghosts. In addition to those examples already detailed in this paper, there
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
are a number of other attempts at determination worth briefly mentioning here. First, in the
séance, it became customary to tie the medium to their seat (usually in a curtained cabinet)
with string, rope and sometimes electrical wire in an attempt to remove the possibility of
fraud and thus to prove (or not) the ‘reality’ of the contact and manifestations:
It should be mentioned that Evan Powell [the medium] had been securely tied with rope, all the knots covered
with sealing wax, and his thumbs tied with cotton. At the close all the fixtures were found entirely unaltered.
For spiritualists, scientists and de-frauders (of which there were many) these controls, as well
as those where tables and rooms were checked for hidden means of trickery, represent
attempts to dictate and ultimately decide the truth of spiritualism. Second, ghost-hunting has
often been achieved through various technologies. For the famous ghost-hunter Harry Price
these technologies consisted of cameras, sealants for doors and windows and torches. For
Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, who spent five years investigating mediums, spirits and
ectoplasm, evidence of the ghostly or otherwise was performed in a ‘psychic laboratory’:
Schrenck-Notzing initially outfitted his studio with five cameras including two stereoscopic cameras, and wired
them to photograph an event simultaneously. He later added four more cameras, raising the number to nine and
ensuring that his studio contained a large audience of mechanical eyewitnesses.
For the contemporary ghost-hunter these kits can include EMF meters, hydro thermometers
and motion alarms. Such technologies can be seen as means to measure and ultimately to
decide upon the causes of spectrality and the spaces they produce. Third, since the nine-
teenth century spectrality has been reduced to a product of the mind and the imagination:
ghosts, it seems, are the result of an over-active imagination, or worse, the consequence of
mental instability or various neuroses. This investigative path seeks certainty through a
rationalist ‘internalization of the spectral. For as long as the external world is populated by
spirits – whether benign or maleficent – the mind remains unconscious of itself, focused
elsewhere, and unable to assert either its autonomy or its creative claim on the world’, which
‘as if through a kind of epistemological recoil [results] in the spectral nature of our own
thoughts – to figure imaginative activity itself, paradoxically, as a kind of ghost seeing.
These various diagnostics and means of surveillance wrestle with the ghost and haunting
in order to find assurance in ‘this-worldly’ zones of intelligibility. In short, ghosts are seen
here as really something else. Yet as often as these attempts revealed fraudulent mediums,
deception, particular environmental conditions and mental ‘disturbance’, they also pointed
towards undecidability and imponderability. Thus the technologies afforded an agency in the
recording and making manifest of the ghostly still leave us in a state of uncertainty in that
these devices can only trace the ghostly. For example, during Schrenck-Notzing’s investigations
camera flashes would make ecotoplasm disappear and thus, ‘the technology that secured a last-
ing material record of the ghostly manifestation also eradicated the physical phenomena itself,
reducing any material evidence of spirit activity to a mechanical tracing.
From Machen’s
‘black heaven’ stone to the frisson of uncertainty of a displaced table, anomalies and impon-
derables abound in the different forms of materialization and manifestation we have discussed
in this paper. The various means by which ghosts make their presence known – displaced objects,
certain affectual registers or different textual narratives – are always troubled by absences and
cultural geographies 15(3)
often uncertain causation. Even under the strictest test conditions, spectral geographies are
shadowy and excessive affairs, never fixable, always caught between explanatory criteria.
It seems therefore there is always an excess to the ghost and the spaces they haunt. Spectrality
and haunting is impossible to exorcise through the securing categories that have often been cre-
ated for them. Ghosts and spectres appear and disappear, are both absent and present. They are
incarnations which hover between secure accounting mechanisms: as Laclau states, ‘[t]he very
essence [of spectrality] is to be found in this undecidability between flesh and spirit: it is not
pure body – for in that case there would be no spectrality at all; but it is not pure spirit either –
for the passage to the flesh is crucial’.
Inexplicability means that spectral geographies always
produce and are produced through a degree of hesitancy. As such, haunted spaces and ghostly
geographies often engender an interpretive position caught or frozen between a worldly or famil-
iar explanation of events and a purely supernatural explanation of situations. This uncertainty
and hesitancy is, we would argue, the specificity and particularity of spectral geographies. Indeed,
the interpretative criteria we use to understand spectral geographies must likewise be hesitant.
Ghosts can never be fully understood, represented or brought into representation.
How haunted spaces and ghostly geographies emerge through a specific refusal of classi-
fication is something we would like to see retained and explored in the so-called ‘spectral
turn’. Put differently, the specificity of locating haunting relies upon the particularity of ghosts
as ghosts and the peculiar spaces assembled through and with them. Consequently, in taking
up ghostly or hauntological understanding of spatiality there is a danger that some of the
specificity of ghosts and spirit manifestation is lost. These dangers involve losing the particu-
larity of spectral geographies to what Luckhurst calls ‘the very generalized economy of haunt-
ing … [which] routinize[s] specificity beneath a general discourse regarding the spooky’.
Thus, retaining the particular and peculiar hesitancy of spectral geographies, manifested in
various mysterious geographies, uncanny affordances, spectral corporealities and unresolved
narratives, is and can be a very productive step forward.
We would argue that undecidability and hesitancy while at first a seemingly unproductive
analytical manoeuvre, is full of potentiality for new ways of apprehending haunted spaces
and spectrality more broadly. Take for example Tim Edensor’s work on the industrial ruins
of factories and warehouses: as he explores and moves through these marginal sites, ghosts
enliven the assemblages of materiality, embodiment and space encountered producing myr-
iad involuntary memories of childhood, ex-workers, habitualized factory routine and obso-
lescent pop culture.
These insubstantial, uncertain and indeterminate absent-presences
disrupt and often lend little sense to space, yet they allow for different and contingent specu-
lations and ways of thinking to emerge. Ghost herein ‘motivate us to celebrate the mysteri-
ous, heterogeneous sensations and surprising associations of the past in the present and
encourage a wanton speculation towards objects and places, encouraging contingent rather
than causal connections to be made between remembered events, spaces, objects and places’.
This is precisely the power of ghosts and the contingent potentiality of haunted spaces to
enchant, to make us wonder and in so doing usher forth new interpretative frameworks, to
open up our epistemologies or even our ontologies in fantastic, strange and sometimes baf-
fling ways: ‘By definition, having proof means that otherworldly experiences are brought into
the concrete world of clarity and legibility. But when this happens they are in danger of los-
ing their mystery and power to make us wonder.
Indeterminacy and contingency are both
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
consistent characteristics of ghosts and haunting and a potentiality for orchestrating new ways
of thinking and apprehensions.
Indeed the way these imponderable spaces show up as distinctive haunted assemblages
means that we can never be prescriptive: the peculiarity of the enchanting charge of haunted
space involves manifold resonances and energies for our thinking and practices which are
impossible to set out in advance. As such we would argue for the enchantment of ghosts to
be witnessed and apprehended in their particular and peculiar spaces: ghosts as they are made
manifest through specific spatialized narratives and spatial assemblages of practice, embodi-
ment and materiality, and we must be attendant to this geographical particularity rather than
producing generalized analyses of the spooky. Perhaps the ghost then, in its spatial multipli-
city and indeterminacy, could make us (and our apprehensions) more alive despite, or even
because of, its association with absence and death. Hesitancy and imponderability, excess and
ineffability – going ghost hunting offers the potential and opportunity for newly charged lines
of thought and enchanted modes of apprehension in the social sciences and humanities.
The authors would like to thank the supportive comments of the two anonymous referees and the
organizers, Peter Adey and Joanne Maddern, and audience of the session at the RGS-IBG conference
in 2005 where this paper was first presented. Special thanks also go to Louise and Siobhan for putting
up with our spooky obsessions.
Biographical notes
Julian Holloway is a lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has
published on spirituality and religion, materiality and mundanity, and their affectual and embodied
geographies. He can be contacted at: Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences,
Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5GD, UK; email: j.j.holloway@
James Kneale is a lecturer in Geography at University College London. He has published on fantastic
fictions (SF, horror, ghost stories) as well as other geographical aspects of popular culture. He can be
contacted at: Department of Geography, UCL, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK;
S. Pile, Real cities: modernity, space and the phantasmagorias of city life (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and
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R. Jackson, Fantasy: the literature of subversion (London and New York, Routledge, 1981), pp. 3–4.
R. Mighall, A geography of Victorian Gothic fiction: mapping history’s nightmares (Oxford, Oxford University
Press, 1993), p. 211.
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J. Derrida, Spectres of Marx: the state of the debt, the work of mourning, and the new international (London,
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El espinazo del diablo, G. del Toro, 2001.
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Del Toro ‘Behind the scenes’, El espinazo del diablo (2001) DVD.
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Bennett, Enchantment,p.40.
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Ibid., p. 157.
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Ibid., p. 22.
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A. Machen, ‘The red hand’, in S. T. Joshi, ed., The white people and other stories (Hayward, CA,
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Ibid., p. 2.
Blackwood, ‘Psychical’, p. 29.
R. Jackson, Fantasy,p.39.
R. B. Salomon, The mazes of the serpent (Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2002),
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A. Bierce, ‘The Damned Thing’ in D. Thin, ed., The colour out of space: tales of cosmic horror (New York,
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grotesque romance (London, C. A. Pearson, 1897); James Whale, The invisible man, 1933. See P. Kingsbury,
‘Science fiction and cinema: the hysterical materialism of pataphysical space’, in R. Kitchin and J. Kneale,
eds, (London and New York, Continuum, 2002), pp. 123–35.
Holloway and Kneale: Locating haunting
Blackwood, ‘Psychical’, p. 35.
Machen, ‘Red’, p. 15.
Ibid., p. 28.
S. T. Joshi, ‘Introduction’, in Joshi, ed., The terror and other stories, (Hayward, CA, Chaosium, 2005),
p. ix.
Pile, Real cities, p. 150.
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mundane geographies’, Environment and planning a 39 (2007), pp. 555–69.
On spiritualism see: A. Conan Doyle, The history of spiritualism (Volume 1) (Surrey, The Spiritual Truth
Press, 1926); G. K. Nelson, Spiritualism and society (London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969);
R. Pearsall, The table rappers (London, Michael Joseph,1972); R. Brandon, The spiritualists: the passion
for the occult in the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries (London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1983);
L. Barrow, Independent spirits: spiritualism and English plebians, 1850–1910 (London, Routledge & Kegan
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L. Curnow, The physical phenomena of spiritualism: a historical survey (Manchester, Two Worlds Publishing
Company, 1925), p. 23.
London Dialectical Society, Report on spiritualism (London, J. Burns, 1873), p. 248.
W. Overton, ‘More manifestations’, Human nature 2 (1868), p. 155.
J. Holloway, ‘Enchanted spaces: the séance, affect and geographies of religion’, Annals of the associ-
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Fritz, Where are the dead? or spiritualism explained (London, Simpkin and Marshall, 1875), p. 42.
London Dialectical Society, Report, p. 129.
T. Castle, ‘Phantasmagoria: spectral technology and the metaphorics of modern reverie’, Critical
inquiry 15 (1988), pp. 26–61.
London Dialectical Society, Report, p. 128.
J. Sconce, Haunted media: electronic presence from telegraphy to television (Durham and London, Duke
University Press, 2000), p. 57; and see P. Thurschwell, Literature, technology and magical thinking,
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Fritz, Where are the dead?,p.81.
Castle, ‘Phantasmagoria’, pp. 49–50.
See J. Walkowitz, ‘Science and séance: transgressions of gender and genre in late Victorian London’,
Representations 22 (1988), pp. 3–37.
Curnow, Physical phenomena, pp. 23–4.
K. Schoonover, ‘Ectoplasms, evanescence and photography’, Art Journal Fall Edition (2003),
pp. 31–41, p. 37.
Castle, ‘Phantasmagoria’, p. 29.
Schoonover, ‘Ectoplasms’, p. 38.
E. Laclau, ‘The time is out of joint’, Diacritics 25 (1995), pp. 85–96, p. 87.
Luckhurst, ‘Contemporary London Gothic’, p. 534, 541.
cultural geographies 15(3)
T. Edensor, Industrial ruins: space, aesthetics and materiality (London, Berg, 2005); T. Edensor, ‘The
ghosts of industrial ruins: ordering and disordering memory in excessive space’, Environment and
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Edensor, ‘Ghosts of industrial ruins’, p. 845.
M. A. Durant, ‘The blur of the otherworldly’, Art journal Fall Edition (2003), pp. 7–15, p. 15.
See also D. P. Dixon, ‘A benevolent and sceptical inquiry: exploring “Fortean Geographies” with
the Mothman’, Cultural geographies 14 (2007) pp. 189–210.
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This paper explores the new forms assumed by ghost apparitions, through the screens of new communication and information technologies. It analyses the diversity of the manifestations and the channels through which these new ghosts circulate. It opens up a reflection on the continuities and ruptures of the relationships between technologies and spectres. Moreover, the paper ends up in a discussion on the status of the "spectre" in the context of hyper-mediatised societies. keywords: ghosts ; screens ; hauntologie ; spectrality ; ontology C'est un fait déjà bien établi et documenté que le développement extrêmement rapide des technologies de la communication et de l'information a généré une réorganisation plus ou moins profonde, toutefois, des systèmes de pensée et d'action sur le monde qu'en anthropologie il est coutume d'appeler "cultures" (Escobar 1994). Dans un monde où les écrans ont colonisé les agencements matériels dans lesquels vivent et s'expriment les humains, où les formes culturelles sont recalibrées par la multitude des technologies qui opèrent désormais dans tous les compartiments de l'existence au point qu'on a évoqué la révolution numérique comme une rupture anthropologique majeure pour l'humanité (Rieffel 2014). Laissant ici de côté l'immense domaine des transformations enregistrées et étudiées dans le domaine de l'impact de ce processus sur les formes culturelles, l'organisation économique ou les dynamiques sociales, c'est sous l'angle de l'anthropologie toutefois qu'il sera ici question d'un domaine en pleine effervescence et émergent: celui des rapports entre technologies digitales et apparitions spectrales-aussi intégré dans le paradigme de l'hauntology. Que les avancées technologiques ont donné lieu à des adaptations dans le domaine des religions établies, le fait est désormais bien documenté et continue de l'être: les grandes organisations religieuses comme les nouvelles mouvances spirituelles ou "ectaires" se sont en effet largement approprié la vaste gamme de technologies d'information et les nouveaux circuits médiatiques. Les ajustements, mutatis mutandis, à ces nouvelles contraintes matérielles et communicationnelles forment un domaine d'étude assez bien documenté à ce jour (voir les volumineux travaux de Heidi Campbell, aux Etats-Unis). De la même manière, mais avec une étape supplémentaire vers ce qui fera le coeur de cet article, les formes les plus évanescentes cependant particulièrement signifiantes en contexte de digitalisation avancée comme le sont nos sociétés, la magie (surnaturelle) sous ses différentes formes (traditionnelle ou réinventée) a aussi trouvé sa voie (ambivalente, car elle peut être véhiculée par les technologies ou générée par elles…) au sein de l'écosystème des médias et des technologies digitales (Obadia 2020). Pour autant, dans la multitude des images qui se déploient dans cet écosystème sociotechnique, il en est certaines qui intéressent anthropologues et technologues, pour des raisons identiques, qui relèvent également d'une certaine approche par les croyances, mais qui s'inscrivent dans un univers de perceptions et de conceptions encore plus nébuleux: cet univers se construit autour des images "fantômes" (ghost images) qui sont autant d'apparitions fugaces, troubles et troublantes, parce qu'elles ne ressortissent pas à l'idée d'une mécanique bien huilée des technologies digitales, dont sont vantées l'efficacité et les ouvrent la voie à des processus de
This article deepens feminist scholarship on emotional geographies of fear via an engagement with haunting and memorialization in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during and after the 1976–1983 military dictatorship. I take the recuperated Space for Memory Virrey Cevallos as a case study of emotional geographies of fear to assess how fear becomes temporally and spatially fixed in the landscape. I argue that recuperation and memorialization disrupt the haunting of this emotional geography of fear, and that attention to everyday experiences of fear nuances broader discourses on justice. I develop my analysis with testimonies from neighbors of Virrey Cevallos to follow the endurance of fear leading up to the site's recuperation as a national Space for Memory. Tracing a timeline of this geography from the dictatorship to the present shows the haunting effects of fear, and asks how memorialization, as a material and temporal intervention in emotional geographies of fear, addresses the (dis)continuities of this geography. This research shows that everyday emotional geographies of fear are intertwined with the (dis)continuities of time. Further, this case study suggests that disrupting haunting requires an intervention that bridges the legacies of the past with reparative justice that attends to place.
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This chapter develops a hauntological methodology apt to explore effectively saturated moments, where distant pasts suddenly seem capable of evoking intensities and raising questions about the present. We develop and illustrate this methodology in relation to current policy narratives aiming to inspire young women to become interested in educations and careers in the STEM fields. We begin in one particular ethnographic moment, where a group of school children enter a classroom for a natural science lesson and encounter some old, dusty taxidermy moulds. We dwell in this moment to lure out many different histories, effects, material techniques, epistemic regimes and desires to know and master knowledge that come together in this moment. With an open mind and a methodological ambition of adding layers to our understanding of current STEM narratives, we ask the speculative question of how particular practices, power, ideas, normativities, politics, effects and techniques have been embedded in these taxidermies over time. The chapter offers a methodological approach, we term ghostly mirroring as a way to catch glimpses of other and maybe less innocent tales, than those apparently told by current glittery STEM narratives. This methodology does not aim to settle or resolve questions. Instead, it aims to open new inquiries of underlying assumptions in current policy narratives and to enrich conversations about gender and aspiration in educational leadership.
In this paper I explore the strange figure of the levitator within Kim Scott's (1999) Miles Franklin Prize winning novel Benang: From the Heart. Through different genres of art and creative practice, mysticism, religion, science-fiction, magic, and even civil disobedience, the levitator is a poorly acknowledged mobile subject who seems to refuse scholarly enquiry. Levitation is more readily understood as a maligned form of fraud, fakery and social frippery, a figure of esoteric interest. Building on recent attempts to resurrect and reconsider levitators (Adey, 2017; Young, 2018), as well as floating, lighter-than-air atmospheres and elements (McCormack, 2018; Engelmann, 2015), this paper argues that floatations like levitation provide a crucial addition to critical and radical thinking in mobilities, affective life and studies of settler-colonialism. Through Benang, Kim Scott's vast historical and yet intimate novel, the paper works with the floating encounters woven through the politics and ecologies of Western Australia and its racist policies which sought to regulate the Noongar people, an Aboriginal people recognised as the traditional owners of south west Western Australia. Within Benang, levitation, lightness and detachment, become expressions of vertiginous (post)colonial distance, fear, anxiety and escape.
The article deals with the idea of “haunted landscape” as a research tool in analyzing post-expulsion landscapes. I propose a new perspective on analyzing narrations concerning expulsion and resettlements of lands where a drastic demographic change took place. I use existing research connected with the idea of Jacques Derrida’s hauntology, as well as other analytical sources dealing with folktales of different regions. As material for analysis, I propose various records from ethnographic research conducted in the Czechoslovak borderlands, stored at the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, concerning the space of a “traditional house” and the new settlers’ views on their new home.