Civic Spirits? Ghost lore and civic narratives in nineteenth-century Portsmouth

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Arguing for a more historicized approach to hauntological theorizing, this article explores the insights to be gained from urban ghost lore. Focusing on nineteenth-century Portsmouth, it uses ghost lore to penetrate the town's dominant narrative as the home of the Royal Navy. Through examining the ways in which ghosts variously informed a sense of community, tacitly subverting civic narratives whilst also resonating with key features of 'official' memory, this article argues for the existence of interpretative struggles over urban spaces, places and identities. in doing so, it seeks to highlight the potential value to historians of a developing 'spectral turn'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • ghosts
  • urbanization
  • folklore
  • hauntology
  • civic culture


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