Orders of Resistance

Galactic Hauntology and the Force of Recognition in Star Wars


  • Owen Morawitz The University of Queensland
  • Nick van Buuren




Despite narrative world-building that serves to exploit and expand “gaps and fissures in temporal continuity,” the Star Wars franchise features numerous instances of ‘galactic hauntology,’ wherein particular forms, objects, characters, themes, and other narratological elements occur and inevitably reoccur in a science fiction timeline spanning thousands of years. Entries in the original film trilogy (Episodes IV–VI), renowned for their performance of postmodern anachronism and Jameson’s nostalgia mode, rely on consistent and dominant motifs to ground the audience in a suspended, otherwise dehistoricised, spatio-temporal placement “a long time ago in a galaxy, far, far, away…” In the prequel and sequel trilogies (Episodes I–III; VII–IX), this effect is further complicated by a transition from postmodern Jamesonian ontology to a turn-of-the-millennium hauntology as diagnosed by Fisher through Derrida. This galactic hauntology grasps at spectral figures of the original trilogy’s canonical spatio-temporality in an attempt to mourn and move past the franchise’s recognition of its own lost futures. By interrogating the “persistences, repetitions, [and] prefigurations” of galactic hauntology, we argue that this iterative, cumulative, and self-referential effect produces a ‘force of recognition’ in the viewer, one that is ontologically distinct from postmodern modes of nostalgia, homage, and pastiche. Recognition of these galactic hauntological elements within a given film entry and the larger franchise generates orders of resistance within the text as a necessary condition for engaging with Star Wars as a multi-generational cultural phenomenon.  




How to Cite

Morawitz, O., & van Buuren, N. (2023). Orders of Resistance: Galactic Hauntology and the Force of Recognition in Star Wars. Unbound: A Journal of Digital Scholarship, 3(1), 32–39. https://doi.org/10.12794/journals.ujds.v3i1.218