Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination

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Contributed date

January 20, 2020 - 2:46pm

Critical Commentary

By touching the ghost, Avery Gordon claims that we might get something different than we might have expected, leading us to see things we did not see before, our relations to that which seemed invisible changing. Such is what she strives to achieve through an alternative rendering of sociology and the social sciences more generally, pushing us to imagine beyond the limitations of discipline and its detached know-it-all criticism. She urges us to push past the taken-for-grantedness of modernity, for a “something more” than a fixed past-tense form of accounting for (or silencing of) historical, social, economic, and psychoanalytic trauma. Gordon’s text propels us towards a sensuous knowledge of knowing and doing that recognizes the power of ghosts as real, living beings who must be collectively understood. I believe that her work provides a crucial intervention for comprehending place and how we conceive of it: what do we miss when we look, whether what we're looking at/for is oft rendered invisible due to hypervisibility or  exclusion? What do we exclude when we visualize subjects (whether toxicity or something else), and what are our intentions behind such moves? Finally, how might we utilize haunting to recognize the need to deal with the toxicity that permeates from State, Power, Slavery, Racism, Capitalism Science, and Patriarchy? 


Gordon, Avery 2008. Ghostly Matters: Haunting & Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Group Audience

  • - Private group -

Cite as

Anonymous, "Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination", contributed by Isabelle Soifer, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 22 January 2020, accessed 25 September 2021.