"That Box is Haunted!": English Paranormal Investigating and the Immateriality of the Past

Author(s): Michele Hanks

Year: 2017


Since the late 1990s, paranormal investigating has emerged as a popular means of seeking knowledge of the ghostly or paranormal in England. Paranormal investigators are self-fashioned experts who aim to balance scientistic and spiritual perspectives in hopes of proving or disproving the existence of ghosts from an objective perspective. They dedicate significant amounts of their leisure time to reading about, talking about, and researching ghosts or the paranormal. English paranormal investigators ground many of their research practices in engagements with the material remains of the past, including historical artifacts and architectural ruins. Some paranormal investigators believe that these physical objects can act as repositories of or triggers for spirits from the past. Drawing on my long term ethnographic research in the North of England, this paper examines paranormal researchers’ epistemological and practical engagement with these physical remains and shows how they produce narratives of the past. Here, I argue that juxtaposing the immateriality of spirits with the materiality of the physical remains of the past opens up an intellectual space in which paranormal investigators reimagine the past while challenging the expertise of orthodox researchers of the past, including historians and archaeologists.

Cite this Record

"That Box is Haunted!": English Paranormal Investigating and the Immateriality of the Past. Michele Hanks. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431720)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15214