Uncanny Others: Hauntology, Ethnography, Media

Clanton, Carrie B.. 2017. Uncanny Others: Hauntology, Ethnography, Media. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents my study of “ghosthunting”—the practice of attempting to capture ghosts, primarily using cameras and audio recorders—as a metaphorical device for the use of audio-visual media within anthropology. I conducted fieldwork with ghosthunters, paying particular attention to their attendant audio-visual media practices and outputs, in order to redress the reluctance of anthropology to a) evaluate audio and visual media as mechanisms for producing anthropological critique—although some anthropologists have taken pains to do that with writing—and b) to understand the particular "haunted" history of audio-visual media as being related to critical anthropological concerns such as representation, time, and the other.

The history of the use of audio-visual media within ghosthunting follows a similar trajectory to that of anthropology, and the resultant methodologies and outputs of both disciplines function in ways that are less inclined towards discursive “speaking with others” than they are towards attempting to produce demystified representations of others. Neither practice has, in contemporary times, acknowledged the historical connection of audio-visual media to the supernatural, nor its capacity to deal with the uncanny as a critical provocation.

My study of ghosthunters shows that despite attempts to reify ghosts via photography, audio, and film, those media are themselves devices that maintain the uncanny as an ethical injunction towards the other—whether as ghosts or as the cultural “other” of anthropological critique. An acknowledgement of the “haunted” origins and capacities of media allows for ethical engagements with anthropological others, ultimately suggesting critical media methodologies for anthropology that, while informed by anthropology’s “crisis of representation,” radically differ from written ethnography. Viewing the relationship of media and anthropology through the lens of Derrida’s hauntology is a useful framework for thinking about media methodologies that can stand as critique.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



anthropology, media, representation, hauntology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


31 January 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Mar 2017 14:22

Last Modified:

15 May 2018 10:20



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