Co-habiting with Ghosts: Knowledge, Experience,
Belief and the Domestic Uncanny

Caron Lipman (Ashgate, 2014)

How does it feel to
live in a ‘haunted home’? How do people negotiate their everyday lives with the
experience of uncanny, anomalous or strange events within the domestic
interior? What do such experiences reveal of the intersection between the
material, immaterial and temporal within the home? How do people interpret,
share and narrate experiences which are uncertain and unpredictable? What does
this reveal about contested beliefs and different forms of knowledge? And about
how people ‘co-habit’ with ghosts, a distinctive self – other relationship
within such close quarters?

This book sets out to explore these questions. It applies a non-reductive
middle-ground approach which steers beyond an uncritical exploration of supernatural
experiences without explaining them away by recourse only to wider social and
cultural contexts. The book attends to the ways in which households in England
and Wales understand their experience of haunting in relation to ideas of
subjectivity, gender, materiality, memory, knowledge and belief. It explores
home as a place both dynamic and differentiated, illuminating the complexity of
‘everyday’ experience – the familiarity of the strange as well as the
strangeness of the familiar – and the ways in which home continues to be
configured as a distinctive space.

Contents: Approaching
the ghost. Part I Spaces and Times of the Haunted Home: The material uncanny;
The temporalities of the haunted home. Part II Strategies of Cohabitation:
Embodying, domesticating, gendering the ghost; Strategies of distance and
communication. Part III Belief, Knowledge and Experience: Knowledge and
uncertainty; Belief, evidence and experience; Conclusion: the liminal
home/self; Appendix: the households; References; Index.

the Author: Dr Caron Lipman is Research Fellow at
the School of Geography, University of London, UK.

Reviews: ‘Most people have heard of ghosts: popular culture
is full of them. Many people will know of someone who has seen a ghost or had a
ghostly experience. Sometimes, people feel haunted, whether by tragedy or by a
sense of loss. But, for a few, paranormal activity is normal activity. People
do not just live with ghosts as a cultural or metaphorical or emotional figure:
they actually live with ghosts. In this extraordinary book, Caron Lipman deals
with extraordinary phenomena in ordinary life, in the home. Rich in testimony,
ever sensitive to people’s experience, she reveals how the people who live with
ghosts learn to accommodate them – and how, consequently, we all deal with
strangers and strangeness in our lives.’
Steve Pile, The Open University, UK

‘What does it mean to share your home with a ghost? Caron Lipman’s answers to
this question are thought-provoking and insightful. Foregrounding people’s own
experiences and beliefs in her exploration of the uncertain boundary between
material and immaterial geographies, she challenges much current thinking about
home and subjectivity in this highly original and beautifully written book.’
Ann Varley, UCL (University College London), UK

‘Large portions of this book, especially the interviews with the experients,
will be of great interest to students of folklore, and should be of interest to
psychical researchers and one often gets the sense that there are important
insights here’. The Magonia Review of Books

Society and Space review: