Title of Presentation

Session K: Discriminating Spirits: Animals in Ghost Stories and the Human-Nonhuman Boundary

Sub-theme

Research and Theory

Keywords

Death & Dying, Ghosts, Human-Nonhuman Relationships, Vegan Theory, Visibility Politics

Start Date

13-10-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

13-10-2018 11:45 AM

Abstract

The cultural management of death and dying can illuminate social relations, and, although under examined, this includes the manufacture of ghosts and hauntings. Ghosts can represent the social recognition of a subject’s personhood as well as the legitimacy of that individual’s experience with inequality since many haunting narratives center a socially-experienced grievance. Although ghosts may not be objectively “real,” the persons they are said to represent and the oppression they endured most certainly are. Subsequently, an absence of haunting narratives could evidence a group’s structural disadvantage. Extremely marginalized groups may be so oppressed that they do not warrant acknowledgement. Nonhuman Animals, for instance, are much less likely to be recognized as ghosts, especially farmed species. To explore the relationship between oppression and symbolic interaction, this article examines nonhuman ghost stories through qualitative content analysis. Analysis expects to uncover a pattern of recognition that reflects the hierarchy of nonhuman worth in an anthropocentric society. Although farmed Nonhuman Animals exhibit the highest death rates in human society and their deaths are directly related to oppression (which heavily aligns with the popular explanation of hauntings as a response to a wrongful death), they are expected to constitute a statistically insignificant portion of ghost stories given their extreme marginalization. Cultural source theory, which argues that ghostly matters emerge from culture, is advanced with an application of David Nibert’s theory of capitalist-driven nonhuman oppression to suggest that those species that are most heavily commodified in the economic system will be culturally invisibilized in narratives of death and dying. The erasure of farmed Nonhuman Animals from popular ghost stories exemplifies the ideological maintenance and symbolic manipulation of human supremacy.

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Oct 13th, 10:30 AM Oct 13th, 11:45 AM

Session K: Discriminating Spirits: Animals in Ghost Stories and the Human-Nonhuman Boundary

The cultural management of death and dying can illuminate social relations, and, although under examined, this includes the manufacture of ghosts and hauntings. Ghosts can represent the social recognition of a subject’s personhood as well as the legitimacy of that individual’s experience with inequality since many haunting narratives center a socially-experienced grievance. Although ghosts may not be objectively “real,” the persons they are said to represent and the oppression they endured most certainly are. Subsequently, an absence of haunting narratives could evidence a group’s structural disadvantage. Extremely marginalized groups may be so oppressed that they do not warrant acknowledgement. Nonhuman Animals, for instance, are much less likely to be recognized as ghosts, especially farmed species. To explore the relationship between oppression and symbolic interaction, this article examines nonhuman ghost stories through qualitative content analysis. Analysis expects to uncover a pattern of recognition that reflects the hierarchy of nonhuman worth in an anthropocentric society. Although farmed Nonhuman Animals exhibit the highest death rates in human society and their deaths are directly related to oppression (which heavily aligns with the popular explanation of hauntings as a response to a wrongful death), they are expected to constitute a statistically insignificant portion of ghost stories given their extreme marginalization. Cultural source theory, which argues that ghostly matters emerge from culture, is advanced with an application of David Nibert’s theory of capitalist-driven nonhuman oppression to suggest that those species that are most heavily commodified in the economic system will be culturally invisibilized in narratives of death and dying. The erasure of farmed Nonhuman Animals from popular ghost stories exemplifies the ideological maintenance and symbolic manipulation of human supremacy.