For years I wrote about small communities of people who were not famous, but were, at least, breathing, that is, alive. Now I mostly write about one famous, (or, perhaps to some, infamous), man, who, though an internationally recognized, (not to mentioned economically valuable) icon (and commodity), has been, for over forty years, long dead.
And what I have learned from this switch in sociological subject matter is that the very best, most compelling evidence I’ve ever come across, (to tell either kind of sociological story, really), are actual, tangible images or writings or sounds that are both familiar and surprising at the same time.
Like this small fragment of a documentary told by poet Laura Hope Gill about her grandmother, Grace Meadows, who was held in a detainment camp in China during World War II. Or this recently found film footage of diarist Anne Frank, a girl, who, until this moment, most people have only known as a black and white photograph, forever stilled (see image above). As sociologist Avery Gordon would say, some very ghostly matter indeed.