25. Dr. Michele Hanks Author Interview

For the 25th episode of Ghosthropology, Matt does something a bit different. Rather than focusing on a specific ghost story, this long episode is dedicated to an interview with Dr. Michele Hanks, an anthropologist who studies ghost tourism and paranormal investigators. Dr. Hanks provides some thought-provoking comments on the search for evidence, what belief in ghosts means, and how this all ties into larger cultural issues.

This episode was written by Matthew Armstrong with music by Matthew Armstrong and production assistance from Kaylia Metcalfe.

If you would like a transcript of this interview, please donate so we can afford a transcription service.

Special Guest Dr. Michele Hanks

Dr. Michele Hanks is a cultural anthropologist, teacher, and writer. She has taught writing in the Expository Writing Program at New York University since 2015. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with English paranormal investigators and ghost tourists as well as more recent fieldwork with psychics in NYC. Her book, Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past, was published in 2015. Her writing also appears in American Anthropologist, Nova Religio, Ethnos, and Focaal.

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Sources Referenced:

Barber, Paul. 2010. Vampires, Burial & Death. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Bliss, Eula.  2014.  On Immunity: An Inoculation. Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, MN. 

Dickey, Colin. 2016. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. Penguin Books, New York, NY.

Eaton, Marc.  2018.  Paranormal Investigation: The Scientist and the Sensitive.  In The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History, edited by Dennis Waskul and Marc Eaton. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PN. 

Evans, Gillian. 2010. What about White People’s History: Class, race and culture wars in contemporary Britain. In Culture Wars: Context, Models and Anthropologists’ Accounts, edited by D. James, E. Plaice and C. Toren. Berghahn Books, Oxford, UK. 

2012. “The aboriginal people of England”: The culture of class politics in contemporary Britain. Focaal, Issue 62. Pages 17-29. 

Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of Talk. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PN. 

Hanks, Michele. 2015. Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past. Routledge, London.

Heizer, Robert. 1941. A Californian Messianic Movement of 1801 among the Chumash. American Anthropologist Vol. 43(1). Accessed online 8/27/21 HERE

Hess, David. 1993. Science In The New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders, and Debunkers, and American Culture. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI. 

Latour, Bruno. 2004. Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 30(2).    

Laycock, Joseph P. 2015. Dangerous Games – What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds. University of California Press, Oakland, CA. 

Luhrmann, Tanya. 2012 (reprint). When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. Penguin/Random House, New York, NY.

Putnam, Robert.  2001. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY. 

Spier, Leslie. 1930. Klamath Ethnography. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Storm, Jason. 2017. The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences.  University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 

Turner, Victor and Edith Turner. 2011 (reprint). Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture. Columbia University Press, New York, NY. 
Weber, Max. 1993 (reprint of 1920 edition). The Sociology of Religion. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.

Dark History / Dark Tourism   

Abby Day (sociologist)   

Pilgrimage (as discussed in social sciences)    

Abbey Road      



Kings Cross Station and Harry Potter-related Travel    


Ghost Hunters (Television Series)     

Most Haunted (Television Series)      

Michael Shermer      

Ben Radford       

Theory (scientific definition)     

Derek Acorah      





Jair Bolsonaro      



Anti-Vaccine Movement       

Global Warming Denial        

Occupation of Alcatraz      

American Indian Movement       

Liverpool and the Slave Trade        

Narendra Modi and Hindu Nationalism      

Holocaust Denial        

Conspiracy theories in the Alt-Med/Wellness communities      

Victoria Woodhull     

Possession in an anthropological context     

Speaking in Tongues/Glossolalia     

John Sage and other Chillingham Castle Ghosts      

The disenchantment of the World      


Isaac Newton and Alchemy      

John (Jack) Parsons       

L. Ron Hubbard        

Jet Propulsion Laboratory      

Organized Skepticism/Skeptical Movement       

Icelandic belief in elves        

Revolutions of 1848       

Society for Psychical Research        


The X Files       

The Cold War       

War on Terror       

IRA Bombings       

Blake Smith/Monster Talk      


Dan Carlin (podcaster)       

Mike Duncan (podcaster/writer)     

Bruce Carlson (podcaster)      

Detectorists (television show)          

Role-Playing Games      

Alpha Program        

The Ghost Club         

National Railway Museum          

Castle Keep, Newcastle         
Fan Fiction 

Published by kayliametcalfe

Queer,loudmouth,skeptical-agnostic-pagan,book addict,coffee lover,wine drinker, SAHM,writer,editor,producer,podcaster. -She/her

4 thoughts on “25. Dr. Michele Hanks Author Interview

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