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.
There are many creepy stories associated with the British Museum, but in this episode, Matt focuses on two – one involving a fake artifact and the other involving a rather weird interpretation of a real artifact with a heaping helping of 19th century colonialist exoticism. Both are interesting in what they tell us about the people who first began circulating the stories.
Matt speaks about ghost beliefs of ancient humanity, at least as far as we can discern them. While there are some that seem a bit odd to us today, many of these ideas and concepts will seem very, very familiar. The similarities between these ancient stories and the ones we tell each other today seem to speak to continuity of tradition, but they also suggest a variety in beliefs about the returning dead.
Tales from throughout the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico tell of a stranger who appears at a dancehall, dancing well, but leaving fear in his wake. Is it all just tall tales? Is it exaggerations of a rakish man’s exploits? Or is the Devil actively looking for dance partners? Matt is again joined by James Tyner, whose family members were present for events in Fresno that seem to match the folklore of the Devil at the Dancehall.