In Spectres of Marx, French philosopher Jacques Derrida coined the term “hauntology” as a playful homonym for “ontology” (Derrida, 1994). According to Derrida, ‘ghosts haunt places [discourses, ideologies, etc.] that exist without them; they return to where they have been excluded from’ (2000, p. 152, in Kenway, Bullen, Fahey & Robb, 2006). Hauntology as a mode of inquiry (i.e., a research method) identifies what the "spectre" privileges, what it seeks to produce and the politics it favours. Hauntology also asks fundamental questions about how these “ghosts” attend to the responsibilities to the past, future and present. To do so, it traces voices, epistemologies, and temporalities that haunt history and awareness, where the past, present, and future come together” (Tavin, p. 101). The domain of the spectral belongs to what haunts and returns, something from the past as yet unfulfilled or unfinished, yet the returning spectre points to the future (Peim, 2005, p. 74).
"Doing" hauntology as research involves asking questions that involve past, present and future, unpacking discourses, and looking to how "spectral" phenomena shape practices, believes, and institutionalized practices. Kenway et al. (2006) present a lengthy hauntological study (see link) that is essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing this form of research.
Further reading:Derrida, J. (1994). Spectres of Marx: The state of the debt, the work of mourning, and the New International. London: Routledge.
Kenway J., Bullen E., Fahey J. & Robb S. (2006) Haunting the Knowledge Economy. New York: Routledge.
Peim, N. (2005). Spectral bodies: Derrida and the philosophy of the photograph as historical document. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 39(1), 67-84.Tavin, K. (2005). Hauntological shifts: Fear and loathing of popular (visual) culture. Studies in Art Education, 46(2), 101-117.