A glitch in time: digital interruptions and spaces of haunting

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


For this chapter, I consider the performativity of the glitch in relation to possession and communication with the dead in Lukumí and Palo onto-epistemological experience. Video conferencing technologies have become standard means of communication in a COVID era, and with it a ubiquity of glitching. The presenter’s face freezes, images distort or unexpectedly reproduce, or faces are overtaken by cat filters. Glitches can be artistic strategies (methods of which are articulated in Russell’s Glitch Feminism) for intentionally or accidentally momentarily undoing usual modes of discourse, opening up spaces for non-linear experiences of time. Battista refers to these experiences as “numinous” (3), and can potentially move us toward what Phillips articulates as the recognition of “time as cyclical, spiral, revolving, and usually anything but linear.” These moments signify an ontological shift in the participant/observor’s experience of time.

These slippages might point toward a present that is haunted simultaneously by a past and a future that is already here. The glitch can mirror pre-possession states in Lukumí ritual performance (the moment when the initiate starts to shake, or other signs signifying the coming of the Orisha). There is a disruption of the hard binary line between the living and the dead, playing on the Kalunga line in Palo practices. Considering this in relation to Ochoa’s distinction between the ambient and the responsive dead could reveal new potentials for the glitch, or possibly point toward an already-ongoing hauntological conversation with spirits of nature and the dead.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Perspectives in the Study of Folklore and Performance
EditorsSolimar Otero, Anthony Buccitelli
PublisherIndiana University Press
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 3 Jul 2023

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