Spectral technologies and the fomenting of paranormal landscapes in Chile
Diana Espirito Santo (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I will attempt to understand recent fieldwork in Chile with paranormal investigators in terms of assemblages of things. I will ask what kinds of cosmologies the technological performance of spirits and their histories engenders for participants.
Paper long abstract:
The assumption that matter, or indeed technologies, are inert, passive, or mechanistic is no longer viable as a starting point of analysis, at least according to recent anthropology. Bennett´s Vibrant Matter (2010) places vibrancy as a consequence or product of assemblages or conglomerates of things (and people). Bennett´s focus, as also Mol´s (2002) and Law´s (1997), is on how things come together for a designated amount of time to create certain ontological conditions for existence - we could say, to create cosmologies. The human element in this equation is, while important, merely circumstantial. In this paper I will attempt to understand recent fieldwork in Chile with paranormal investigators and other actors in para-patrimonial tourism along these lines. Technologies - such as thermographic cameras, electromagnetic field readers, radiation detection devices, ghost boxes (which capture electronic voice phenomena) - are not simply devices that "register" a certain reality underneath the surface. In the exploration of haunted houses and other sites, my interlocutors expect that the paranormal itself surfaces in conjunction with these materials. I will ask what kinds of cosmologies the technological performance of spirits and their histories engenders for participants, and apply an analytical frame that sees the vibrancy (or enchantment) of a particular ghostly moment as a result of the articulations of an assemblage of heterogeneous actants - technical and material, visible and invisible, and human and not.
Mobile materials and technologies of enchantment