Specters, Hauntings and Archives conference

Conference at the University of Amsterdam, with an evening party at Mediamatic

15 Jan 2009
16 Jan 2009

This two-day conference aims to enhance an interdisciplinary academic discussion on the discourse of hauntology, spectrality and archivization. During the conference, a variety of activities and performances will be set forth in order to explore both the concept and the figure of the ghost. The figure of the ghost invokes an interdisciplinary practice that does not aim for general consensuses but that instead, enables (and provokes) the multiplication of knowledge and perspectives. We invite participants to ‘host' this figure and try to speak with it from different backgrounds, including History of Art, Philosophy, Literature, Film and Media studies, History, Archival Studies, Cultural Studies and Anthropology.


Photograph by Walid Raad, from the We decided to let them say, "we are convinced," twice series (2002). Image found on Open Democracy -

‘So far gone am I in the dark side of the earth, that its other side, the theoretic bright one, seems but uncertain twilight to me.’ (Melville, Moby Dick). The world of theory and art has recently been inhabited by dark spirits and haunted historical subjects: from the writings of Derrida on spectres to Hal Foster’s definition of the artist as archivist, to postcolonial and trauma studies. This conference proposes to ‘roam’ rather than to define a ground for theory in the ever growing and ambiguous discourse on hauntology, spectrality, and archivization.

Day programme

[subject to change]

Day 1, Thursday January 15, 2009 at the Doelenzaal
08.30 Registration
09.15 Conference Opening: Welcome and Introduction
09.30 Keynote Speaker: Donald Preziosi, Professor of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles Title of lecture to be confirmed
10.15 Keynote Speaker: Michael Newton, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Leiden, 'The Tenant: A Reading of the Haunted House Motif in Nineteenth-Century and early Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories'
11.00 Coffee Break
11.15 Session 1: The Architecture of Haunting with Toby Juliff, Maarten Liefooghe, Magdalena Sabat
11.15 Toby Juliff, University of Leeds, UK, 'Rachel Whiteread and Miss Havisham: architecture, humiliation, haunting'
11.45 Maarten Liefooghe, University of Ghent, Belgium, 'Mapping the Spectres of Monographic Museums'
12.15 Magdalena Sabat, New York University, New York, 'Imagining the Future Metropolis: Robert Moses and the New York City World Fairs'
12.45 Lunch break

13.45 Keynote Speaker: Deborah Cherry, Professor of Art History, University of Amsterdam, 'Revenants and returns in recent art'
14.30 Keynote Speaker: Sven Augustijnen, Artist based in Brussels, 'Spectres project'
15.15 Coffee Break
15.30 Session 2: Mining the Archive with Clare Butcher, Oliver Nyirubugara, Lucia Nimcova and Samuel Anderson
15.30 Clare Butcher, Appel Curatorial Programme, 'Market Memorials: second hand urban archives in South Africa and beyond'
16.00 Oliver Nyirubugara, University of Amsterdam , 'My name is a monument: the archival and memory keeping function of the name'
16.30 Lucia Nimcova, resident at the Rijksakademie, the Netherlands, 'Unofficial - The legacy of socialism?'
17.00 Samuel Anderson, New York University, New York, 'Nzambi - Zonbie - Zombie: Genealogy of the Living Dead'
17.30 End of first day

Day 2: Friday January 16, 2009
08.30 Registration
09.15 Welcome
09.30 Keynote Speaker: Colin Davis, Professor of French at Royal Holloway, University of London 'The Sceptical Ghost'
10.15 Keynote Speaker: Esther Peeren Assistant Professor Comparative Literature and ASCA researcher, University of Amsterdam Title of lecture to be confirmed
11.00 Coffee Break
11.15 Session 1: Traces of (Im)mortality with Dora Bampali, Inga Schaub, Audrey Samson and Alana Gillespie
11.15 Dora Bampali, University of Amsterdam, 'Ghost in the Text'
11.45 Inga Schaub, University of Amsterdam , 'The Theatre of the Dead: Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida and Post-mortem Photography'
12.15 Audrey Samson, Artist based in Rotterdam, 'Praise the Media! Mediated Mourning Rituals and the Acceptance of Death'
12.45 Alana Gillespie, Utrecht University, '"No longer wonderful, but terrible": The Third Policeman's Loquacious Ghosts'
13.15 Lunch Break

14.15 Keynote Speaker: Jean-Francois Chevrier, Art Historian, art critic and curator based in Paris. Title of lecture to be confirmed
15.00 Session 2: Spectral Visions, with Patrick Crowley, Barbara Scheiter, Darryl Bowes and Ji Yoon Yang
15.00 Patrick Crowley, Columbia University, New York, 'The Specious Image: Atomism and Spectrality in Ancient Rome'
15.30 Barbara Scheiter University of Tübingen, Germany, 'A ‘ghostly' camera? For a haunting theory of photography'
16.00 Coffee Break
16.15 Darryl Bowes, Artist, University of Newcastle, Australia, 'The Revenant: phobic-occlusion and the epistemological failure of Western Vision in colonial Australia'
16.45 Ji Yoon Yang, Appel Curatorial Programme, 'Voice without a Body'
17.15 Discussion
18.00 End of Conference

Evening programme

An informal evening program will be held at Mediamatic. There will be artist contributions and drinks. Open to visitors of the conference and everybody else who's interested! More information follows.

Conference locations

January 15, 2009:
Universiteits Bibliotheek
Singel 425

January 16, 2009:
Oost-Indisch Huis
VOC zaal
Kloveniersburgwal 48

Organization and contact:

Anthie Argyriou, Tanja Baudoin, Moosje Goosen, Patricia de Vries, Arnisa Zeqo
Check out the conference website for more information and updates! Or send an e-mail to: ghostconference@graduate.org

We gratefully acknowledge the support offered by:

Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA); Institute of Culture and History (ICG, University of Amsterdam); Dept. Franse taal en Cultuur (University of Amsterdam); Dept. Taal en Letterkunde (University of Amsterdam); College van Bestuur (University of Amsterdam); Onderzoekschool Kunstgeschiedenis (OSK); Allard Pierson Stichting; Stichting De Appel; Mondriaan Foundation