Racialization and Racism

Urban specters

In this piece, we take up haunting as a spatial method to consider what geography can learn from ghosts. Following Avery Gordon’s theorizations of haunting as a sociological method, a consideration of the spectral offers a means of reckoning with the shadows of social life that are not always readily apparent. Drawing upon art installations in Brooklyn, NY, White Shoes (2012–2016), and Oakland, CA, House/Full of BlackWomen (2015–present), we find that in both installations, Black women artists perform hauntings, threading geographies of race, sex, and speculation across past and present. We observe how these installations operate through spectacle, embodiment, and temporal disjuncture, illuminating how Black life and labor have been central to the construction of property and urban space in the United States. In what follows, we explore the following questions: what does haunting reveal about the relationship between property, personhood, and the urban in a time of racial banishment? And the second, how might we think of haunting as a mode of refusing displacement, banishment, and archival erasure as a way of imagining “livable” urban futures in which Black life is neither static nor obsolete?

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Volume 39 Issue 6

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