Paper short abstract:
How do people make sense of unexplainable experiences, many of which are invisible sensations? And how does the anthropologist deal with this field of sensations that are not represented in everyday language? These questions arise from my study on Haunted Houses in Denmark today.
Paper long abstract:
Based on my fieldwork on haunted houses in Denmark today, this paper deals with the gap between sensations and representations of experiences of unexplainable phenomena. Often people sense invisible phenomena, as the experiences are connected to hearing something that seems not to be there. This kind of sensation poses a series of problems to the one experiencing it. Firstly it is impossible to find out exactly what you sensed, secondly it is a challenge to find notions in your everyday vocabulary that might cover the experience, and thirdly you might find it difficult to talk to others about it. These problems are mirrored in the challenges of the anthropologist studying this field: How do you make an anthropological analysis of something that is not recognized as real, neither in the surrounding society nor by the people who have sensed it themselves? How do you represent sensations that are there not for all but only for some of the senses? These questions have become part of my work with the project Haunted Houses. The topic of sensation and representation will be given a spatial perspective, since those who are subject to invisible experiences are usually very much aware of their sensations of the surrounding physical location during and after the experience.
The edgy Northern European imaginaries: cultural identity through the looking glass of fabulous ancestors and ludic realities