Chair: Michael Fiddler

Ghost Criminology: examining the spectral traces of crime

Building: B
Room: 02


Author: Campbell Elaine, Newcastle University

Title: Dark Diffractions: a Performative Hauntology of 10 Rillington Place
Taking a cue from quantum physics, this paper makes both an ontological and epistemological contribution to the emerging sub-field of `ghost criminology’, and introduces a mode of analysis which can grasp spectralities as enfoldings of space-time-matter which have form, content, meaning and power. Via Karen Barad’s (2007, 2008) exposition of diffractive onto-epistemology, the paper outlines a performative hauntology which seeks out the spectral in material-discursive relations of enactment, interference, intra-/interaction, immanence and difference. This is unpacked through a detailed case study of 10 Rillington Place - a residential address in an ordinary street in Notting Hill, in which (at least) eight murders were committed between 1943 and 1953. Though long since demolished and built over, 10 Rillington Place endures as a spectral site revisited and continually recreated through stage plays, books, film, television drama, crime scene photography, and museum exhibits. The paper offers a diffractive reading of this cultural bricolage and asks how it animates and performs 10 Rillington Place as a material-discursive phenomenon; how the (assumed) separation of presence and absence (the organic and the spectral) is enacted in, and emergent through a myriad of discursive, aesthetic, visual, embodied and technological practices; and how, through a relational field of multiple lines of flight and force, this site not only comes into being, but also comes to matter.
Keywords: Diffraction; representation; hauntology; diffractive epistemology; space-time-matter; material-discursive phenomena
Author: Fredriksson Tea, Stockholm University

Title: An Othering Perspective – an Intersectional Approach to Prison’S Gothic Heritage
Prison studies have stressed the importance of regarding punishment as a communicative institution. Studies have shown gothicized prison imagery to be a ubiquitous aspect of this communication; from Victorian prison facades to modern, pop-cultural prison depictions. This presentation focuses on prison autobiographies; discussing how prison space and its inhabitants are narrativized and mis/represented. Primarily, the presentation explores the Gothic heritage visible in these narratives. This heritage is visible through how Gothic genre conventions and horror iconography are evident in prison autobiographies. In particular, this presentation focuses on how these Gothic conventions share a common history with prison policies; a history of colonialism and othering. This shared history is brought to light by how prison narratives, arguably gothic in tone, construct and inscribe difference on imprisoned bodies from what tends to be a white, masculine point of view. This shared history becomes particularly pertinent when viewing prison narratives through a framework of abjection and uncanniness. The present presentation therefore implements this framework to shed light on the way imprisoned bodies are gothicized primarily in terms of gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Abjection and uncanniness can provide insight into how prison narratives envision and communicate notions of monstrosity and threatening others from the point of view of white, heterosexual, middle-class masculinity.
Keywords: Prison studies; Narratology; Abjection; Uncanniness
Author: Kindynis Theo, Goldsmiths, University of London

Title: Ghost Criminology and Graffiti Heritage
This paper reflects on ongoing research into the historical development of the graffiti subculture in London, employing a combination of conventional ethnographic fieldwork and semi-structured interviews, as well as a range of exploratory “spectral” methods. It is suggested that the ironies, contradictions and incompatibility of graffiti’s illegality with conventional, formal heritage frameworks necessitates an unorthodox methodology for any would-be subcultural historian. To this end, the paper discusses the opportunities and challenges presented by a ‘post-methodological’ criminology: an approach that moves beyond ‘method as a formal procedure and toward more fluid, holistic, and personal forms of inquiry’ (Ferrell, 2012: 227).
Keywords: graffiti; hauntology; heritage; urban exploration
Author: Fiddler Michael, University of Greenwich

Title: Ghosts of Other Stories: a Hauntological Examination of Crime in Space
This paper sets out an analytical framework for using ‘hauntology’ to read the spatialised imprint of crime. It draws upon Derrida’s notion of the specter to trace the contours of a given space’s violent history. As such, we discuss the ways in which trauma becomes incorporated within space. A clinical approach to the transmission of transgenerational trauma sees the ‘specter’ reveal itself through somatic symptoms and linguistic tics. This paper performs an act of transliteration: using techniques derived from literary criticism and psychoanalysis to ‘read’ spaces for the ghostly imprints of violence. From hair sewn into the lining of haute couture to a doubled house in London’s East End, this paper draws upon diverse examples in its inter-disciplinary approach to applying hauntology to the examination of crime. It provides a means of understanding the on-going traumatic effects of crime in space, as well as a point of departure to resolve those effects.
Keywords: hauntology; space; trauma
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