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Call for Papers - Spectral Cartographies: Haunting and the Ancient Mediterranean

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Published Date

September 15, 2023


Date: April 12–13, 2024, Princeton University (in-person)
Co-organizers: Paul Eberwine, Aditi Rao

In the past three decades, haunting has exploded as a critical trope across the humanities. From Jacques Derrida’s “hauntology” to Gayatri Spivak’s “ghostwriting” to Christina Sharpe’s “wake work,” the role of the dead in living communities has become a topic of widespread interest across disciplinary boundaries. Along different lines, classicists have become increasingly interested in the relationship between the living and the dead in the ancient Mediterranean. This workshop aims to bridge these conversations, linking a historical concern with the ancient dead with broader questions about the ethical and political stakes of haunting. This means asking not only what it meant to be haunted in antiquity, but also what it means to be haunted by antiquity. In light of Avery Gordon’s suggestion that haunting is a “constituent element of modern social life”, we hope to pursue antiquity’s ghosts across presence and absence, life and death, now and then.

We invite papers—especially from graduate students, early career and un-affiliated scholars, and non-academics—which map the issue of haunting across three dimensions: the “local,” the “global,” and the “planetary.” The “local” takes a synchronic approach, studying how haunting works in Mediterranean antiquity. The “global” works diachronically, asking how ghosts move with Mediterranean antiquity’s transmission and reception. Finally, the “planetary” asks how haunting works as a mode of relation to the ancient past—in particular, as experienced within academic disciplines and institutions.

The workshop will take place on Princeton’s campus over the course of two days. It will consist of three panels, each of which will engage one of the three dimensions described above: the “local,” the “global,” and the “planetary.” Each panel will include three to four speakers, roughly half of whom will be invited faculty and half of whom will be selected by this open call, making for a total of ten invitees. Each participant will have the opportunity to 1. give a paper and 2. respond to another participant’s paper, in the hope of facilitating generative exchanges.

With this framing in mind, we welcome a wide array of papers, projects, and practices, which plot themselves in the realm of spectral cartography. Possible topics include, for example, interactions between the living and the ancient dead, the “deadening” of languages and cultures, theoretical approaches to haunting, and the haunted disciplinarity of Classics.

Abstracts of 500 words, or an approximate equivalent for submissions in different formats (a poem, a clip from a video, etc.) should be sent to Paul Eberwine ([email protected]) and Aditi Rao ([email protected]), along with a short bio, by November 3, 2023. Accommodations and limited travel coverage provided.