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Hunting ghosts: on spectacles of spectrality and the trophy animal

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jats:p In lieu of material encounters, nonhuman spectres are made sense of through spectacles, imageries speculated upon with their own geographies and affects. This paper explores histories of trophy hunting in the Spanish Pyrenees, illustrating the emergence of the spectacular in relation to contemporary ideals of nature for hunters, in particular questioning the material implications of hunting for the extinction of the bucardo (or Pyrenean ibex). Theoretically, this paper converses Jacques Derrida’s metaphor of spectrality and Guy Debord’s conceptualisation of the spectacle to understand how hunting ghost animals removes them from particular ecological contexts. Trophy hunting and taxidermic practice serves to produce spectacles of animals at the interface of life and death, detaching them from temporal linearities, and allowing trophy animals to speak to broader sentiments of mastery over landscape. The bucardo was a ghostly figure prior to its extinction, famously difficult to encounter and kill by the 19jats:supth</jats:sup> century, and as such its absence was marked through trophies to infer its broader presence in the landscape. I trace the changing significances of spectres and spectacles through the development of photographic technologies; prior to the camera’s spread and widespread use, spectral spectacles were produced through hunting practice. A typology is offered for the sensing of ghosts in their cultural contexts: mourning, or the attempt to ontologise remains; marking, or the conditional attribution of language to the spectral; and working, the means through which the ghost transforms itself or is transformed. </jats:p>



bucardo, extinction, Guy Debord, haunting, hunting, Jacques Derrida, more-than-human geography, spectacle, spectrality, taxidermy

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Cultural Geographies

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SAGE Publications