An-archaeology is a procedure to reshape the official foundational accounts of thought through adding virtual and counterfactual narratives. It springs from a certain mistrust in the capacity of any starting point to ground what comes next – and from the idea that no beginning is oblivious to its others. As such it is an attempt to think through the unruled; it comes close to what Emmanuel Levinas meant when he wrote “true as only fiction can be”.
Spectral realism is the belief in what haunts – even though, as Juliana Martinez professes, it is worth paying more attention to the haunting than to the ghost. It is an attempt to look towards the past through its effects in lores, traumas, inheritances and recurrent images. Saidya Hartman is engaging with specters when she tries to narrate what the past has systematically obliterated. Spectral realism is a stance towards the memory according to which the past is its salient mode of existence.
Both endeavors relate to the Aristotelian quest for the drawing line between remembering and imagining. Both draw on how memory cannot be thought through without the mutual imbrication of retention and retrieval – to refer to the main characters of the philosophy of memory that John Locke once rehearsed. This talk will explore what both an-archaeology and spectral realism have to say together about the past and what we could do with it.
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