Haunted bodies and ghostly spatialities

Haunted bodies and ghostly spatialities is the second seminar of the ALICE series Surrounded by a fog of virtual images. Organized in 2020-2021 by ALICE (Atelier de la Conception de l’Espace) at the ENAC / EPFL this online series seeks to explore and operationalize architectural research questions through a series of talks with international guest speakers led by its grad and post-grad researchers around key topics of their work.

Ghosts and hauntings are familiar with architectureDas Unheimliche, the essay of Freud, resonated all along the XXth century into architectural theory. Unhomeliness has been first thought of as a bourgeois aesthetic experience referring to estranged homes to their inhabitants and leading to the haunted house’s figure. Secondly, the development of psychoanalysis in architectural methods and theories to address the fundamental unlivable conditions of the modern city shifted the relations between bodies and architecture, site and structure, and paved the way to deconstructivism’s dismembered bodies and below language aesthetics.

However, a third way remains unaddressed in the architectural field. Ghosts appear asking for reparations. Traces of institutionalized violence and silencing, their phenomenal existence is an effective, shared, and lived reality. As a particular figure of plural temporalities defining affective landscapes, ghosts inhabit, dwell, and thus, shape and influence our spatialities. Not our past, our commons, ghosts are a particular texture of living memories with whom we are sharing our lands, practices, and becoming.

For this second session of the seminar Surrounded by a fog of virtual images, we aim at addressing architectural histories of haunting, as much as the spatial dimensions and agencies of ghosts. Starting from different perspectives  (sociology, architectural, and critical theory), this discussion aims at opening common grounds for critical, intersectional, and reparative architectural (hi)stories. 

We will do it in collaboration with Avery Gordon, whose intervention will address subversive historical alternatives with the aim of returning to the ghost a certain agency with which the living might make common cause. Meanwhile, Gabriel Schwab will ask how “ghostly spatialities” affect the texture of traumatic memories. Under the title Memory Crypts, she will use several examples from her hometown in order to analyze these haunting memories, including the erasure of traces of Jewish life, a spatial memory of Roma life, and a memory of the discovery of an Aleman burial ground.

Image: Extract of the adaptation of the M.R. James’s novel Oh, whistle and Ill come to you, my lad for the BBC in 1968, by Jonathan Miller. 

To join the lectures and conversation:


Guest Panelist: Denise Bertschi

20.01.2021 – 15:00 › 17:00