The hauntological imaginary in Bernadine Evaristo’s Soul Tourists (2005)
This article examines the novel, Soul Tourists (2005), by Bernadine Evaristo, a black British writer of Nigerian and English descent, through the notion of hauntology. Based on the author’s assertion that “her preoccupation is her DNA,” I explore the novel’s depiction of a black British couple—Stanley and Jessie—as they take a road trip across Europe, and the haunting of Stanley by the ghosts of black historical figures along the way. I draw on Avery Gordon’s framing of hauntology as both a racialized experience of invisible power structures of oppressions and a call to action. I firstly consider Stanley and Jessie’s personal histories as haunted sites of melancholia and repressed memories. I further link hauntology to the imbrication of spiritual and physical worlds through an analysis of the erased historical figures—ghosts—that speak to Stanley at various locations along their journey. Over and above the spatiotemporal (re)mapping of blackness in Europe and the challenge to the ontological definition of Europe as ‘being’ a space of whiteness, I relate the hauntological imaginary to a schema of black ancestry.
Keywords: Black Britain, hauntology, Bernadine Evaristo, Soul Tourists, ancestors, kinship