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Accepted Paper:

Enchanting Evidence. The ghost hunter's techniques  
Ehler Voss (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation analyzes how ghost hunters use technical media such as audio recorders, cameras, modified radios, and measuring devices as well as sensory experiences to make something invisible visible, perceptible, and audible, and in doing so to get evidence for the existence of ghosts.

Paper long abstract:

Ghost hunting is becoming a very popular practice of ghost communication in the US and in many other parts of the world. With the help of a lot of technical media such as audio recorders, cameras, modified radios, and a variety of measuring devices, ghost hunters try to make something invisible visible, perceptible, and audible - usually ghosts that are supposed to be deceased human beings. The ghost hunter's practice is deeply based on the idea of objectivity and provability, and getting evidence for the existence of ghosts is a decisive aim of many participants. Captured voices usually count as objective evidence, and these recordings are collected, isolated, played to other ghost hunters or distributed on the internet. But even if on first glance technical media play a crucial role in getting evidence, sensory experiences, and their performance, are at least of the same importance. Based on anthropological fieldwork among ghost hunters, parapsychologist, spiritualists, and skeptics in California, I analyze the interferences between bodily practices and media practices of ghost hunters, and in so doing show how technical media, human mediums, and invisible beings cooperatively come into being. In addition I will Interpret current Ghost Hunting practices against the background of 19th century mediumism, and I will show how their practices are part of a great controversy about enchantment and disenchantment, science and religion, and the potentials of technical media and human mediums that started in the 19th century and that is still present today.

Panel P105
Mobile materials and technologies of enchantment
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -