Like all the best ghost stories, this begins with the most innocuous of introductions: “…life is complicated”, a quote by Patricia Williams that Gordon will remind us repeatedly is “the most important theoretical statement of our time” (3). What obscures, obfuscates, thwarts and yes, haunts us and our work, she argues, is not what is seen but what isn’t, the notable absences out of the corner of our trained eye, those ghosts who may be invisible (especially to the discourse) yet still exact attention from their hidden presence. Perhaps anticipating the confusion of my book’s previous reader, Gordon patiently (and poetically) expands on her conceptualization – ghosts are those whom, through the “complicated relationship between reality and its mode of production” (11) have been relegated to that void between the s...
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... platform for silenced, and therefore considered dead, voices - is as provocative a tool for sociological/ethnographic discernment as one might imagine and, as Gordon’s work amply evinces through its case subjects remains desperately needed . It is no coincidence then that Life is complicated bookends this work – and in the words of Luce Irigiary which Gordon summons (39-40), its complications often give us reason to let the unexamined and unchallenged method lead us astray. But also, because as all the best authors of ghost stories know, working in the proximity - on behalf of - ghosts must leave the exorcist and the ethnographer changed; not only is the spirit of the unseen transformed but so is the exorcist/ethnographer. Such reflexivity and acknowledgment deserves a language in which to articulate shifts in positionality. Ghostly Matters provides that vocabulary.
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