The Anthropology of Being Haunted by Byron Good

November 28, 2022
The Anthropology of Being Haunted by Byron Good

The Department of Anthropology would like to recognize Professor Dr. Byron Good's publication in this year's Annual Review of Anthropology (Vol. 51: 437-453). Entitled The Anthropology of Being Haunted: On the Emergence of an Anthropological Hauntology, this review explores the theme of hauntology and spectralities within wirtings on cultural studies and whether a similar form of hauntology has emerged in Anthropology.




Since the appearance of Derrida's Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International in 1994, there has been an outpouring of writing in cultural studies around the themes of hauntology and spectralities. This article asks broadly whether a form of hauntology has emerged within anthropology; if so, when and how it has appeared; and what constitutes such a field as distinctive. This article asks what comprises being haunted as a specific affective state within anthropological writing, what theory of the subject is assumed by such writings, and what distinguishes ethnographic analyses that do not dismiss the presence of ghosts as simply cultural beliefs or literary fictions, as is common in cultural studies. It reviews the literature on the haunting remains of traumatic violence, examines writing that juxtaposes hauntological and ontological theorizing, describes the appearance of an incipient hauntological voice within ethnographic writing, and concludes with a discussion of the emergence of a hauntological ethics.


The full review can be found here: The Anthropology of Being Haunted: On the Emergence of an Anthropological Hauntology


About The Author

Byron Good is a medical, psychological and psychiatric anthropologist. Prof. Good has been carrying out research focused on studies of subjectivity, culture and mental illness in Indonesia since 1996 – on studies of psychosis and the development of mental health services in Yogyakarta, Java, and on humanitarianism and mental health responses to traumatic violence in Aceh.  He has conducted and led studies of early experiences of psychosis in Indonesia, as well as comparative projects of first episode psychosis in Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, and the U.S.  Prof. Good, Prof. Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, and Jesse Grayman collaborated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on studying levels of violence experienced by villagers in high conflict districts of Aceh, and on developing mental health services, using mental heath outreach teams, for 75 high conflict villages in Aceh.  This led to USAID-supported programs aimed at improving public mental health care in Aceh and Yogyakarta, and most recently to a project supported by the Harvard-Dubai Center for Global Health Delivery to build new models of mental health care in Yogyakarta.  

Prof. Good’s broader anthropological interests focus on the theorization of subjectivity in contemporary societies — on the relation of political, cultural, and psychological renderings of the subject and experience, with a special interest in Indonesia.  He continues to investigate how psycho-cultural processes structure the onset, experience, and course of psychiatric disorders, including psychotic illness and PTSD. His most recent work focuses on what Derrida calls hauntology, on ethnographic studies of haunting, particularly in relation to violence and historical memory.

Learn More