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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Introduction to “Hauntings and Traces”

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This volume of Refract investigates the power dynamics of (in)visibility through “haunting” and the “trace.” A form of way making, the trace offers itself as an object, subject, and action, as both a remnant and a becoming. Haunting similarly defies legibility in that it occupies a discomforting space between something/somebody and nothing/nobody—not simply a vestige of previous realities but an active force that unsettles life-and-death worlds. As a journal of visual studies, Refract is drawn to the power dynamics inherent in the zone between the visible and the invisible: a zone that the haunting and the trace both inhabit. This introduction does not seek to define hauntings and traces per se, but hopes instead to offer spaces for their forms to emerge. One starting point is the tension between absence and presence instantiated by the terms haunting and the trace.

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