Extraordinary Anthropology and Ghost Research

The concept of extraordinary anthropology is a way of thinking (and a mode of fieldwork) that recognizes that “Western styles of knowledge, which typically give priority to detachment over engagement……are to be exposed to radically different ways of understanding and inhabiting reality” ( Robert A. Orsi, “Between Heaven and Earth”, 2005). This becomes a radical change in ghost research, and the study of particular “ghost cultures”, the vestiges and remains of “what was” that remain “active” in contemporary reality. It entails giving oneself  to different means of learning and knowing, including immersions and full participation (as far as humanly possible) into past lifeways. Through immersion, participation, and performance, we experience changes in what we are witnessing:

“Unlike Galileo’s contemporaries, who refused to look through his telescope, experiential ethnographers are brave enough to stand inside what may be to them a foreign means of encountering the world” ( Eva Marie Garroutte, “Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America”, 2003). What is involved is a modification of “our previous cognitive structures to include those new features of the environment learned through new or unexpected perceptions” ( Robert C. Fuller, “From Emotion to Spirituality”, 2006). This is what we hope to accomplish in each and every “ghost excavation” we enact in the field at haunted locations: the “extraordinary anthropology” of a “ghost culture”!!