Haunt This Place: Fantasy, Archaeology, and the Ghosts of the Land

Standard Format Session + Live Tweeting + Digital Twitter Session

Session Organisers: Penelope Foreman (Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust) and Katy Soar (University of Winchester)

Email: penelope.foreman@cpat.org.uk.

Abstract: The landscape looms as a character in the depths of our imagination, mercurial and trickster in nature. It can be home, warm, welcome, fertile, mothering – or harsh, unforgiving, unknowable, untameable, othering. From folk horror to fairytale, it leaves us with a deep impression of temporality and tradition, the lingering hint of things broader, deeper, wider than ourselves.

Derridean “hauntology” provides us with a framework for looking at this contradictory, complex creature. We cannot see the true nature of the landscape: it has become haunted with the ghosts of pasts, presents, and parallel places that are created in our own personal memoryscapes. Michael Bell calls this the ‘ghosts of place’, the felt presence of certain sites, ‘an anima, geist, or genius … that possesses and gives a sense of social aliveness to a place’ (Bell 1997:813-814).

Archaeology and literature work in different ways to address this haunting. From Alan Garner’s drenching of place with human action and emotion, to assemblage driven discussions on the agency and materiality of the landscape-as-thing, archaeological interpretation and fantasy literature attempt the same mental sleights of hand to suspend our instinctual and postmodern landscape perceptions, and challenge us to see the ghosts.

We invite speakers to examine ways that haunted landscapes are presented, developed, and explored in either fantasy or archaeology, or a blend of both.

Bell, M. M. 1997. The ghosts of place, Theory and Society (26): 813-36

Keywords: ​landscape, hauntology, Derrida, materiality, fantasy literature