The Specter of the Indian

Race, Gender, and Ghosts in American Seances, 1848-1890

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Kathryn Troy
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , September
     2017.
     232 pages.
     $85.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9781438466095.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Angela Pulley Hudson forthcoming.

Description

Explores the significance of Indian control spirits as a dominating force in nineteenth-century American Spiritualism.

The Specter of the Indian unveils the centrality of Native American spirit guides during the emergent years of American Spiritualism. By pulling together cultural and political history; the studies of religion, race, and gender; and the ghostly, Kathryn Troy offers a new layer of understanding to the prevalence of mystically styled Indians in American visual and popular culture. The connections between Spiritualist print and contemporary Indian policy provide fresh insight into the racial dimensions of social reform among nineteenth-century Spiritualists. Troy draws fascinating parallels between the contested belief of Indians as fading from the world, claims of returned apparitions, and the social impetus to provide American Indians with a means of existence in white America. Rather than vanishing from national sight and memory, Indians and their ghosts are shown to be ever present. This book transports the readers into dimly lit parlor rooms and darkened cabinets and lavishes them with detailed séance accounts in the words of those who witnessed them. Scrutinizing the otherworldly whisperings heard therein highlights the voices of mediums and those they sought to channel, allowing the author to dig deep into Spiritualist belief and practice. The influential presence of Indian ghosts is made clear and undeniable.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Kathryn Troy teaches in the department of social sciences and criminal justice at Suffolk County Community College and the department of history, politics, and geography at Farmingdale State College, State University of New York.

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