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Department of Geography, University of Cambridge


Ghosts and apparitions in the field: an international workshop

Ghosts and apparitions in the field: an international workshop

27th May 2011, Lecture Theature, Scott Polar Research Institute

Convenors: Dr Olga Ulturgasheva and Dr Shane McCorristine

Sponsors: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CARA)

What is spectrality? How can we theorise haunting? What forms of livelihood give rise to the expansion and proliferation of ghosts? What ontological implications do ghosts (imps, vampires, spirits and other creatures of human and non-human origin) have for people’s perceptions of themselves, their present, past and future? Our event is aimed at exploring the multiple notions and constructs of the ghost and the ghostly, broadly defined, in the current research of anthropologists and historians. Whether ghosts represent a separate community of projections, divided between entertainment, religion, and parapsychology (as in the Western European perspective) or a vital everyday force implicated in myriad social processes and cosmologies (as in various non-Western contexts), the fact remains that ghosts and ghostly affects are imbedded in our cultures, ideologies and memoryscapes. The aim of this workshop is to provide an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and speak to each other about the ghosts that haunt their research. Therefore presentations in each session will take the form of an opening statement of working ideas of no more than 10-15 minutes, followed by an open discussion with the other participants lasting 15-20 minutes.


10.15am Registration. Coffee and tea.

10.45am Welcome introduction

1st Discussant Dr Shane McCorristine

11.00am Dr Vanessa Grotti (University of Oxford) 'Relatives and the invisible: kinship, spirits and the dead in an Amazonian society'.

11.30am Dr Gilly Carr (University of Cambridge) ‘Haunted by the Occupation: Soldiers, Slave-workers, and other tales from the German Bunkers in the Channel Islands’

12.00 pm Coffee break

2nd Discussant Dr Olga Ulturgasheva

12.15 pm Dr Katherine Swancutt (University of Oxford) ‘Ghosts and the Quest for Timelessness in Southwest China'

12.45pm Dr Ivan Peshkov (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) ‘Siberian Ghosts of Chinese Taiga. Memory and Forgetting among Reindeer Evenki (Tungus-Yaku) in Inner Mongolia’

1.15pm Lunch break

3rd Discussant Dr Vanessa Grotti

2.00pm Dr Kostas Zorbas (Democritus University of Thrace/SPRI) ‘From Tuvan shamanic spirits to the Lamia: Greek phantoms through the eyes of a Siberianist’

2.30pm Dr Piers Vitebsky (SPRI, University of Cambridge) Why do Baptist ghosts in Tribal India behave differently from pagan ones?

3.00pm Coffee break

4th Discussant Dr Katie Swancutt

3.30 pm Dr Olga Ulturgasheva (SPRI, University of Cambridge) 'Foreshadowing the Future: Djuluchen and Partibility of Personhood in Northeastern Siberia'

4.00pm Dr Shane McCorristine (National University of Ireland, Maynooth/SPRI) ‘Mesmerism, Spiritualism and Arctic Exploration’

5th Discussant Dr Piers Vitebsky

4.30pm Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (University of Cambridge) 'Tracing Norse-Greenlandic Cultural Memory in the Sagas: From Erik the Red to Trolls in the Wilderness’

5.00pm Dr Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (University of Cambridge) ‘On Ghosts in Critical Theory’

5.30pm General Discussion and Summing up