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After the Fact: Spectral Evidence, Cultural Haunting, and Gothic Sensibility

Carrabine, Eamonn (2022) 'After the Fact: Spectral Evidence, Cultural Haunting, and Gothic Sensibility.' In: Fiddler, Michael and Kindynis, Theo and Linnemann, Travis, (eds.) Ghost Criminology The Afterlife of Crime and Punishment. Alternative Criminology, 29 . NYU Press, pp. 35-66.

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Abstract

This chapter is an effort to understand how haunting is a core feature of social life, mediating the borders between the thinkable and unthinkable, presence and absence, while speaking to the enduring human obsession with the remains of the dead. As the editors of this collection emphasise, ghost criminology is ultimately concerned with the politics of (dis)appearance. I suspect one reason why criminologists have begun to deploy spectral metaphors in their writing is that they provide provocative ways of drawing attention to issues of invisibility, marginality and exclusion, as well as the processes of forgetting, repressing and denial that feature in our subject matter. Although some will be sceptical of this focus, I begin by setting out the key resources that have proved to be extraordinarily fertile in this turn to spectral politics. Avery Gordon’s (1997/2008) now classic text on Ghostly Matters was an emphatic call for a new sociology, which could reveal and learn from subjugated knowledge. As she put it, the ‘ghost is not simply a dead or a missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make social life’ (Gordon, 1997/2008:8). Inevitably, Sigmund Freud features prominently in the book and the ‘return of the repressed’ is a defining concept in psychoanalysis, while his essay on ‘The Uncanny’ (1919/1958) addresses a form of haunting bound up with a frightening otherness. These ideas develop arguments from Freud’s (1913) earlier Totem and Taboo, where he maintains that the historical origins of a belief in ghosts is intimately connected to the divided, emotional impulses characterising all close relationships, especially those between the living and the dead.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Science
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 11:04
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2022 11:04
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32517

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