Social Ghosts and the Dead of World History looks at the global phenomena of the dead in world history, examining the phantasms and spirits of classical social science and philosophy.

From Hegel’s ‘World-Spirit’ to Max Weber’s ‘Verstehen’ and Marx’s phantasms, there is a recurring obsession with the ‘spirits’ of modernity. This book explores the relationships and interactions between those spirits and materiality in five broad areas: the nature of the dead in modernity, shape-shifting and mobile souls, the spirit in accounts of prehistory and archaeology, the phenomenology of spirits and the relation to statues and stone, and the nature of spirit as it is manifested in wooden artefacts and folklore. It offers a counter-modernity to that of classical social science and philosophy and new ways of thinking about our crises and catastrophes in social theory and the world and the worlds beyond this world.

Building on the author’s previous work on the sociology of haunted houses and landscapes, it examines the body and the individual as the locus of haunting. The book will appeal to academics in philosophy, history, social theory, anthropology and cultural studies in its omni-disciplinarity and in its import for rethinking the histories of social thought.

chapter 1|23 pages


Social ghosts and the dead of world history

chapter 2|24 pages

Ghost theory

On shape-shifting

chapter 3|15 pages

Lithic empires

On the dead of world prehistory

chapter 4|16 pages

Stone being

Statues and the phenomenology of spirits

chapter 5|11 pages

Wooden souls

Heads, beings and the organic world

chapter 6|18 pages

On daimonia

Life, death and being

chapter 7|14 pages

Abyssal modernities

From the interior of being

chapter 8|14 pages


On the dead of worlds to come