Hauntology as a successful academic concept holds a pun on the idea of ‘ontology’. It denotes a temporal nonlinearity, the persistence and lingering of failed, of omitted, often utopian, ideas that also formed radical visions of futures. Departing from Derrida’s “Spectres of Marx” (1993), hauntology further was shaped up in Music Criticism as Sonic Hauntology (Fisher 2014), and in Cultural Studies (Gordon 1999).
As theoretical perspective, it opens a field to discuss presence and absence, visibility and invisibility also beyond Literary, Religious or Visual Studies. It relates the lingering of presumably ‘failed’ ideas to the concept of ‘ghosts’ and specters as the haunting presence of past or simultaneously present futures. The scholars and artists contributing to this volume discussed these conceptual outlines in a series of transdisciplinary events, hosted by the editors, the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, fimt and Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth. The concept proved particularly fruitful in the context of the discourse on global migration, European border politics and the reemergences of nationalism and right-wing and straight men politics. Hauntology in this context enables to see that the so-called crises lie somewhere very different: Not in the movement of people but in the dispensation of wealth and access throughout the world. The present we live is embedded in the presence of ghosts and specters, and the traces of imaginations of different times and spaces may become visible and doable. Art in its various forms is the integral part of the hauntological discussion. As such, the contributions by Kitso Lynn Lelliott (Johannesburg), Simon Vincent (London), Silhouette Tapes (Bayreuth/Berlin), Danilo Barata (Cachoeira), Spoek Mathambo (Johannesburg), Henriette Gunkel (London), Esther Peeren (Amsterdam), Renzo Baas (London), Ute Fendler (Bayreuth), Kathrin Rothemund (Bayreuth), Jörg Skiebeleit (Berlin/Flossenbürg), Ibrahim Mahamt Zene (Bayreuth/ N’Djamena) and Lu Zhao (Erlangen) sound the field of hauntology for the future. Stipulating hauntological thinking may help to see, feel and listen to worlds radically different from the “capitalist realism” (Fisher) of the contemporary.
Katharina Fink is a researcher and organizer based at Bayreuth University: at the Academy of Advanced African Studies, Iwalewahaus and at a centre for inclusive aesthetics. She works as an art mediator and curator, preferably collectively, in Germany and South Africa. Her pleasure lies in the interface of art and academy. She runs an art publication endeavour with Dr. Nadine Siegert: iwalewabooks.
Marie-Anne Kohl is a scientific managing director and research associate of the Research Institute for Music Theater Studies / Bayreuth University. Her fields of activity range from academic-theoretical, curatorial to artistic work with an emphasis on topics such as feminisms, postcolonialism, participative, urban and performance art, art and competition, contemporary music and vocal music.
Nadine Siegert is a researcher, curator and publisher with a focus on modern and contemporary arts of the Global South. Currently she is the Deputy Director of Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth and member of the research project Revolution 3.0 at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies. Siegert leads the project African Art History and the Formation of a Modernist Aesthetics, that explores the history of modern art collections. In this context, her current research project is on socialist aesthetic modernity in Africa.