Haunting Hands: Mobile Media Practices and Loss

Haunting Hands looks closely at the consequences of digital media’s ubiquitous presence in our lives, in particular the representing, sharing, and remembering of loss. From Facebook tribute pages during public disasters to the lingering digital traces on a smartphone of the deceased, the digital is both extending earlier memorial practices and creating new ways in which death and loss manifest themselves.

The ubiquity of digital specters is particularly evident in mobile media spanning smartphones, iPads, iPhones, or tablets. Mobile media entangle various forms of social, online and digital media in specific ways that are both intimate and public, and yet the use of mobile media in contexts of loss has been relatively overlooked. Haunting Hands seeks to address this growing and important area by helping us to understand the relationship between life, death, and our digital after-lives.

  • Draws on cross-cultural case studies of mobile media use in and around personal and public rituals of mourning
  • Diverse examples and case studies include how performance artists use mobile media to consolidate a sense of community and belonging after a public trauma or natural disaster
  • Brings together cultural studies and psychological approaches to explore the nascent but highly important field of mobile media practices in and around loss.

Product details

  • Publish Date: 2017
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9780190634971
  • Available here


“The significance of mobile media is marked not by their ubiquity but by their deep embedding in everyday life, and evolving practices around of mortality, memory, and memorialization make this vividly clear. We could not hope for better guides to this complicated topic than Kathleen Cumiskey and Larissa Hjorth. Subtle and sophisticated, Haunting Hands shows in intimate detail how media connect us – and shape our experience at the same time.”

– Paul Dourish, Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine

  • PUBLISHED: 2017
Book cover for Haunting Hands, a glowing mobile phone screen floats above an open hand
looks closely at the consequences of digital media’s