Hauntology Course: Speaking with and through Ghosts




This course builds on the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma Course by teaching hauntology, which turns to the past in order to make sense not only of the present, but also what’s to come. Hauntology is thus a critical theory that considers the presence of absent figures, which “haunt” current social, political, and cultural spaces in a state of being neither alive nor dead. We will look at ghosts and spectres as metaphorical liminal figures that are inherited from the past and inhabit the present. The patient’s subjectivity will thus be considered as an unstable existence marked by hauntings (absent presences of the there and then, agitating in the here and now), thereby linking to relational models of the mind that suggest that the self is never one and never alone. By thinking of different ways that we bring along with us the past, present, and future, we will inevitably turn to the analyst’s existence as one marked by haunting. As beings relating in an intersubjective manner, how do patient and analyst alike respond to and take responsibility for that which they inherit? How, and why, does that which we inherit return as the not-so-dead? Specifically, how do we exhume, exorcise, or live with the ghosts of oppression and dehumanization within the current South African landscape? And what happens when we allow the ghost into the process of making psychoanalytic meaning? Are ghosts and haunting an affliction in need of cure, or should they be recognized as fundamental processes at the core of human subjectivity? If ghosts represent that which is unknowable in our relation to the living, how, if at all, does psychoanalytic listening and witnessing occur? To formulate answers to these questions, we will consider in-depth Derrida’s notion of hauntology, and compare it to other writings on spectrality in cultural studies.


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