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Legend-tripping in spooky spaces: ghost tourism and infrastructures of enchantment

Holloway, Julian (2010) Legend-tripping in spooky spaces: ghost tourism and infrastructures of enchantment. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28 (4). pp. 618-637. ISSN 1472-3433

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Abstract

This paper investigates the increasingly popular practice of ghost tourism comprising urban ghost tours and organised paranormal investigations. Set in the context of modern forms of enchantment, wherein audiences engage in a knowing and reflexive sense of ‘delight without delusion’, the paper explores the various infrastructures, (discursive, affective, and material) that engender a sense of supernatural possibility. I argue that practices of legend-telling, legend-tripping, ostension, and play produce affective assemblages of supposition and wonder that momentarily transform space into something charged with the strange and anomalous. This infrastructure relies on the engineering of dispositions that are both shaped on and brought to the tourist event itself. As such, those with deeply held beliefs in ghosts and the afterlife, as well as those for whom the infrastructures fail to generate wonder, place limits on the artifice of modern enchantment. The paper uses examples from participant observation on ten ghost tours across the UK, an overnight vigil in a Tudor mansion, and interviews with tour guides.

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