Social Haunting: Talking To The Ghosts Of Our Past

Social Haunting: Talking To The Ghosts Of Our Past is a radio documentary about an ambitious research project that uses arts practice to explore the idea of ‘social haunting’. A ‘social haunting’ is said to occur in circumstances where there’s been repression or trouble in society and as a result, the past presses in to the present in ways that aren’t obviously visible. ‘Ghosts’ appear when the pressing concerns of the past have not been attended to. The Working with Social Haunting project explored the usefulness of this concept with two groups of people, those involved in the cooperative movement in Lancashire, and in trade unionism in the former coalfields of South Yorkshire. 

The 30 minute radio documentary Social Haunting: Talking To The Ghosts Of Our Past will be broadcast online and on community stations in Lancashire and South Yorkshire. The times and web links to listen, are below.

The project ‘Working with Social Haunting’ isn’t the sort of research that is kept within a small group of university academics. We think that the questions that the project explored, might be relevant and important to you and your communities. 

Questions like: 
– How does the past impress itself on us in the present? 

– Are there traces of ideas and ways of living from that past that are not simply done and gone, but could be brought to life again? 

– And, even if you don’t believe in ghosts, could we still be haunted by our communities’ past?

Tune in through one of the links below to hear 

Social Haunting: Talking To The Ghosts Of Our Past


Rochdale: (21:00 on Monday 8th February) 



On Twitter: #socialhauntinglive
Please be aware that if you post on Facebook, the comments will be public. We may use comments on social media or by email in project reports, but will ensure they have been made anonymous.
You can email comments to the programme’s producer, Max Munday via On social media, please do not refer by name to any of the participants who you may know; comments will be moderated.

The research project, called ‘Working with Social Haunting’ was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), grant number: AH/M009262/1.

Here’s a taster of one of the workshops, termed ‘Ghost Labs’, as promoted in advance of the project on the site of Barnsley Community Support Centre 

“Overall, the project focuses on how past social and political upheavals and conflicts continue to show themselves in the world in many different ways, even when those in power prefer to argue that ‘they are over and done with’ and are ‘best forgotten’. In South Yorkshire, the end of the mining industry and the defeat of the 1984-85 miners’ strike are obvious, but not the only, examples of what we can call a social haunting.

Ghost Lab Barnsley will bring together Unite Community members with a small group of artists and specialists to investigate social ghosts, both in their positive aspect – memories of solidarity and humour, say – and their negative guise, such as the traumatic shock of policing during the strike. Social ghosts are also among us in less obvious ways too: in the landscape, as roads that don’t go anywhere, as journeys to work that nobody makes anymore, as grassed over pit tips that call themselves ‘country parks’, as zero hours work in call centres that carry the names of pits that were renowned as centres of high wages won after 200 years of collective action.”

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