It is of vital importance to take seriously and to carefully analyse cultural imaginations in different media, including the most popular ones, in order to show how they (re)shape social reality in creative ways. This is what Esther Peeren argues in her inaugural lecture.
Repressed histories, marginalised groups such as undocumented immigrants and catastrophic visions of the future, often presented as ghostly, do not automatically manifest themselves in urgent ways. In order to do justice to these phenomena, to turn them from ghostly to haunting, an attentive attitude is required that is open to the unexpected. Peeren calls this attitude 'attending to the ghost'. According to her, a similar attitude forms a central part of the practice of cultural analysis, as it has been developed at the UvA's Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).
Peeren argues that attentive, detailed analyses (close readings) of cultural imaginations in various media - literature, film, television, etc. - show how these imaginations, even the most popular ones, (re)shape social reality in creative ways. In this way, imaginations can play a role in casting light on ignored pasts and presents and in shaping more inclusive and sustainable futures.
Prof. E. Peeren, professor of Cultural Analysis: Attending to Ghosts: Cultural Analysis, Close Reading and the Cultural Imagination.