Haunting, Urban Restructuring, and the Spectropolitics of Consumptive Spaces in San Francisco

Author(s): Meredith Reifschneider

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Urban Erasures and Contested Memorial Assemblages" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In 19th century San Francisco, tuberculosis infected nearly one in ten individuals. Unlike other racially charged epidemics, tuberculous ostensibly targeted individuals across all classed, gendered, and racialized groups. This, combined with tuberculosis’ spatial indeterminacy and geographic mutability, rendered consumptive spaces and their inhabitants "haunted by the disease". In the 1920s, Progressive Era reformists increasingly targeted tuberculosis; curtailing the disease involved a massive restructuring of space in San Francisco. This included establishing sanitaria in rural areas and demolishing and rebuilding entire neighborhoods within the city. Today, tuberculosis sanitaria and hospitals have either been removed from the landscape or converted into rural open spaces. Many are popular sites for ghost hunters and others tantalized by haunted spaces. I argue that "haunting" acts as a paradoxical ordering principle which "represents the unrepresentable" by bearing witness to these spaces in the present, while also acting to destabilize normative histories of place and commemorative practices.

Cite this Record

Haunting, Urban Restructuring, and the Spectropolitics of Consumptive Spaces in San Francisco. Meredith Reifschneider. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449259)

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Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 244