Putting the Ghost Back In: Making Rich Meaning In Video Work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When Derrida exhorted us to learn to speak to ghosts, his rich notion of hauntology was taken up by post-colonial scholars (Cameron; Coddington) to discuss the hauntings in many colonial landscapes. New Zealand is arguably such a place. Some of my birth kin are Māori, a fact I learnt only in adulthood, as I am adopted. In 2017, I took a video camera to Riverton/Aparima, where my Ngāi Tahu ancestors lived and died. I went looking for ghosts, for a connection. I was seeking Hirsch’s postmemory. Postmemory is not living memory but an intensely imagined past. Adoption scholars (Brookfield, Brown and Reavey; Homans) also use postmemory. However, unlike Berry and her striking experience of Dresden, this land did not speak to me. Despite this, I filmed the properties that my great-great-grandfather John Arnett bequeathed to his children in 1895. Back in Australia, I was forced to intervene in the placid nature of these images to try to put the ghost in. In this article, I outline my working methodology of autoethnography, and discuss how hauntology and postmemory are powerful tools that have changed how I create.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRefractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2019


  • adoption
  • belonging
  • creative practice research
  • Maori
  • identity
  • filmmaking
  • hauntology
  • postmemory


Dive into the research topics of 'Putting the Ghost Back In: Making Rich Meaning In Video Work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this