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Ghost stories: Why tales of the undead still mean so much (even if you don’t believe in ghosts)

Whether they’re told around a campfire or on the big screen, ghost stories still haunt and intrigue people today, particularly Americans. But why? What do ghosts mean to us, and why do they still matter, even in 2023?

N. Fadeke Castor, Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana studies and WGSS Executive Committee Member, says that “What a society calls a ghost is really reflective more of the society than it is necessarily the entity itself, depending upon your belief system.” To find out why ghosts are so important, first one has to figure out what a ghost is in the first place. One common factor that Anthropology professor and WGSS affiliated faculty member Carie Hersh identifies is transition; specifically the transition between life and death. “We tend to have a lot of rituals around death,” she says, “and some of that is to enact a sense of control over this ultimately unknowable transition.”

This article from Northeastern Global News talks about what a ghost is and how the conception of a ghost is influenced by cultural conceptions of kinship, ancestry, and what it means to connect with the past.

Read the full article from Northeastern Global News here!

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

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