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Dark diffractions: a performative hauntology of 10 Rillington Place

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Elaine Campbell



This chapter makes both an ontological and epistemological contribution to the emerging sub-field of `ghost criminology’, and introduces a mode of analysis which can grasp spectral life as enfoldings of space-time-matter which have form, content, meaning and power. Via Karen Barad’s (2007, 2010, 2014) new materialist theory of agential realism, and her exposition of diffractive methodology, the paper outlines a performative hauntology which seeks out the spectral in material-discursive relations of enactment, interference, intra-/interaction, immanence and difference. This is unpacked through a detailed case study of 10 Rillington Place’s principal occupant, John Reginald Halliday Christie. Though long since convicted and executed for multiple murders, this spectral figure is revisited and continually recreated through stage plays, books, film, television crime drama, press photography, archival documents, and museum exhibits. This material-cultural bricolage is also a space of ghostly encounters with Christie’s multiplicity – as `an evil serial killer’ (Root 2012), `a worried looking, insignificant mouse of a man’ (Sunday Times, 28 June 1953), `the most respected person in the street’ (Patricia Pichler [former neighbour] cited in Curnow 2017, 128), `a weird character’ (Evening Standard, 26 June 1953), and `such a nice man’ (National Archives [NA], MEPO2/9535). Through a Baradian lens, grappling with the haunting indeterminacies of Christie’s being is not solely a question of mapping (his) difference as `evil monster’; rather, it also delineates the ethical ground within which matters of justice are always-already at stake. The chapter, then, makes an ontological, epistemological and ethical contribution to the emerging sub-field of `ghost criminology’, introducing a mode of analysis which can grasp spectralities as performative enfoldings of matter and meaning which have significant politico-ethical effects.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Campbell E

Editor(s): Fiddler M; Kindynis T; Linnemann T

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Ghost Criminology

Year: 2022

Pages: 253-279

Print publication date: 01/01/2022

Acceptance date: 16/10/2019

Publisher: New York University Press

Place Published: New York, NY, USA


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781479885725