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Third-party classification: Exposing likeness between satellites dishes, troll figurines and mass-produced bedspreads in a Romanian local museum

Cheryl Klimaszewski (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 11 January 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to foreground the ways in which material objects emerged as a kind of classificatory force during a visit to a local museum in rural Romania. It considers ways in which classification both influences and is influenced by the spatio-temporal assemblages of things.

Design/methodology/approach

Visual and textual ethnographic field data collected to document the museum tour are interpreted using a phenomenological approach. Jane Bennett’s agency of assemblage is used to contextualize these instants of interruption within the space/time arrangements of objects within the museum.

Findings

The “marginal” category of translator commentary emerged during data coding to reveal “instants of interruption.” These instants exhibited classificatory tendencies that revealed relationships between seemingly disparate elements. As such, the translator acted as a kind of third-party classificatory force that illuminated how relationships between physical assemblages of things in the world can act as a force for new knowledge production.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature on social classification and document theory by revealing how alternative approaches to classification can open up additional avenues for research and knowledge discovery.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was generously funded by a Rutgers Graduate School New Brunswick Pre-dissertation Research Award in Spring 2014. The author is also grateful for the insightful comments of the reviewers.

Citation

Klimaszewski, C. (2016), "Third-party classification: Exposing likeness between satellites dishes, troll figurines and mass-produced bedspreads in a Romanian local museum", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 1, pp. 156-171. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-02-2015-0030

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited