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Ghosts

Call for Papers for the journal Terrain




Terrains Spring 2018 special issue will be dedicated to the question of ghosts . In line
with the journals empirically-oriented editorial line, we ask for submissions based on
case-studies of peoples actual experiences of apparitions and hauntings by ghosts or,
more precisely, revenants i.e. human dead who reappear. Submissions will focus on
the context and texture of these apparitions, as well as the ways in which the living try
to manage, frame or prevent them to invoke or exorcise them, to understand the
reasons for their return or to communicate with them about the after-life. Our goal in
encouraging transcontextual comparison of experiences of ghosts is not so much to
measure or develop a model of cultural difference as to draw attention to the
materiality of apparitions and the multiple ways in which the invisible can be made
manifest.

This issue thus seeks to build on three recent bodies of work that take as their object
ghosts and the conditions of their appearance. Some of these works come from within
the field of social anthropology, which having long under-estimated the analytical
importance of ghosts (cf. Kwon 2008 : 22-23), seems at last to have realised their
relevance for understanding the social groups, contexts and eras in which they appear
something that historians have long taken for granted (cf. par ex. Schmitt 1994, Caciola
2000, Gordon 2000, Marshall 2007). Over the last fifteen years, then, a number of
predominantly Anglo-Saxon anthropologists have explored the place of ghosts as
concrete manifestations of a traumatic collective memory; paradoxically, they often
seem to be its most tangible and indeed graspable aspect. From a Chinese countryside
devastated by the famine of the Great Leap Forward (Mueggler 2001) to Taiwan
(Feuchtwang 2009 & 2010) and beyond (Carsten [ed.] 2008, Bear 2008), ghosts are
simultaneously an index of collective trauma and one of the available means of trying to
overcome it (Kwon 2008).

Other authors, fewer in number and more frequently French, have used ghost narratives
to examine the links between cognition, culture and language in Amazonia (Taylor 1993,
Dlage 2007), Iceland (Pons 2002), and Mongolia (Delaplace 2009). Detailed
description of the ways in which these ghosts appear to the living and of the kinds of
communicative exchange such interactions can (and, in some cases, shouldnt) give rise
to, may open up comparative vistas that merit further exploration.

A third body of work, primarily coming out of the history of science, has set out to detail
the wealth of technical means used in Europe around the turn of the twentieth century
to detect, capture and communicate with spirits of the dead (Sconce 2000, Chroux
2004, Baudoin 2015, see also Grimaud et al. 2016), thereby paving the way for
comparison of the range of artefacts and technologies used across different societies to
communicate with the hereafter.

This special issue of Terrain invites researchers from across the social sciences to
continue thinking with ghosts, by questioning both the material conditions and the
scoio-cultural context of their appearances. Contributers are encouraged, on the one
hand, to examine the ways in which ghosts appear (the sensations supposed to indicate
their presence, the narratives developed about meetings with them, as well as the
different technologies photographic, ritual, of mediumship, etc. deployed to manage,
frame or acount for these); and on the other, they are encouraged, by detailing the
context of ghostly apparitions and their social effects, to focus on that which the ghosts
themselves cause to emerge in the social and cultural reality of the collectives they visit.

The special issue welcomes academic articles (of 8000 words), as well as the newly-
established genre of portfolios - i.e. short essays constructed around a body of images.
Contributions should use ghosts as an entrypoint for a reexamination of the classic topic
of the different means of representing the invisible, and contributors are encouraged to
incorporate into their articles the diagrams, pictures and/or photographs used by the
people in question to represent these often imperceptible entities. Finally, short texts (of
4000 words), in the form of descriptive vignettes, may be used to give a feel for archival
accounts of ghostly encounters or direct experience in the field.

Submissions should be addressed to the editors (terrain.redaction@cnrs.fr) by 15th June
2017 at the latest.


Bibliography
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Indian Genealogies in Kharagpur , in J. Carsten (ed.), Ghosts of Memory. Oxford: Blackwell, pp.
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Caciola, Nancy. 2000. Spirits seeking bodies : death, possession and communal memory in the
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