Ghosts, Landscapes and Social Memory: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ghosts, Landscapes and Social Memory

1st Edition

By Martyn Hudson


194 pages

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This book is a groundbreaking attempt to rethink the landscapes of the social world and historical practice by theorising ‘social haunting’: the ways in which the social forms, figures, phantasms and ghosts of the past become present to us time and time again.

Examining the relationship between historical practices such as archaeology and archival work in order to think about how the social landscape is reinvented with reference to the ghosts of the past, the author explores the literary and historical status and accounts of the ghost, not for what they might tell us about these figures, but for their significance for our, constantly re-invented, re-vivified, re-ghosted social world. With chapters on haunted houses and castles, slave ghosts, the haunting airs of music, the prehistoric origin of spirits, Marxist spectres, Freudian revenants, and the ghosts in the machine, Ghosts, Landscapes and Social Memory adopts multi-disciplinary methods for understanding the past, the dead and social ghosts and the landscapes they appear in.

A sociology of haunting that illustrates how social landscapes have their genesis and perpetuation in haunting and the past, this volume will appeal to sociologists and social theorists with interests in memory, haunting and culture.


'This wide-ranging study of haunting as a social practice carefully excavates and illuminates the dazzling array of literal and metaphorical landscapes – from the prehistoric to the (post)colonial and from the musical to the digital – in which ghosts are sedimented, ready to re-emerge as social forces in the present.' - Esther Peeren, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

'Hudson sets out to write a sociology of haunting, to delineate the "social power of the ghost". Using an associative logic that glides like a spectre through disciplinary boundaries, this book puts Marx, Brecht, Rilke and David Mitchell together, teases ghost stories from ancient landscapes and haunted houses, and even gets grumpy materialist Theodor Adorno together with wide-eyed spiritualist Sir Oliver Lodge to meditate on the capacious possibilities bound up with ideas of social haunting. An absorbing, challenging read.' - Roger Luckhurst, Birkbeck University of London, UK

"Ghosts, Landscapes and Social Memory offers wide-ranging sociological analysis of ghosts and the places in which they appear. Unlike other volumes specializing in literary, philosophical and psychoanalytic reflections on ghosts, Hudson links their ephemeral appearance with rootedness in the social context of landscapes. […] Hudson mirrors the difficulties that the living face in trying to grasp and describe the social power of ghosts. The experience of being haunted by ghosts in certain places is difficult to pin down. Hudson is to be commended for an original, interdisciplinary analysis of social ghosts and landscapes that will be of interest to readers in sociology, memory studies, philosophy, cultural studies and literature." – Siobhan Kattago, Memory Studies

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Ghost Armies: Memory, Landscape and Social Haunting

Chapter 2. Dark Caves: Prehistory and the origins of social ghosts

Chapter 3. Revolutionary Spirits: Marx, Engels and Catastrophe

Chapter 4. Excavating Spectres: Haunting and Psychoanalysis

Chapter 5. Night spaces: The Haunted House

Chapter 6. Zong Spectres: Ghosts of the slave system

Chapter 7. Ghastly fictions: Writing the catastrophe

Chapter 8. Nightvisiting Songs: Performing the dead

Chapter 9. Spectral Machines: Seeing social ghosts

Chapter 10. Conclusions: Arrivals from the future


About the Author

Martyn Hudson is Associate Researcher and Project Coordinator at Newcastle University of the Co-Curate North-East project, and author of The Slave Ship, Memory and the Origin of Modernity and Centaurs, Rioting in Thessaly: Memory and the Classical World.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General