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January 04 , 2009

Ghost Excavator

Unearthing the Drama in the Mine Fields


This book is a “ghost story”, meant to be read on cold, dark, windy, and snow-covered wintry nights. These are not “traditional” tales of haunted houses, but rather are personal narratives of “cultural hauntings” of long forgotten histories of ethnic struggles, and Native American beliefs. It is an image of a landscape (and its people) that goes far deeper than the mere surface manifestations of ruined and abandoned structures, and the “bits and pieces” of broken dreams and aspirations. This is a different kind of embedded narrative. It is an excavation that penetrates to the very “heart” of ghostly drama.


Experiences, conceptualized as a form of haunting, provide a framework for the recall of various incidents of personal memory and emotional resonance at specific places. This serves two purposes:


  1. It creates a “personal” landscape characterized by elements of “spookiness” (once dense forests, abandoned structures and mineshafts, “coal patches”); uncertainities that result in episodic “haunting dramas” (the socioeconomic impact of ethnic migrations); and “ghostly presences” (interpretations of these ethnic groups as a response to their physical surroundings);


  1. It provides a framework (in the 2nd part) for the analysis of other similiar haunted landscapes. A methodology is used that incorporates techniques derived from archaeology, ethnography, and performance studies. In doing so, it introduces a new multidisciplinary research methodology called “Ethnoarchaeoghostology”.


This book is a dedicatory salute, however humble, to the achievements and daily struggles of those who came before to inhabit this Mahanoy Area. These hauntings “fill-in” the blank spaces between the words in historical narratives, and thus gives the reader a different image of events in local and regional social histories. In doing so, they show that “greatness” is not measured by the content of what we do, but how, on a daily basis, we do it.

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