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Abstract

This article applies a neo-documentalist approach to explore disciplinary documentation and document practices, assumed to condition disciplinary knowledge-making. The aim is to show how conceptions and materialities of what counts as documentation and documents are intertwined with changing and persisting disciplinary and sub-disciplinary practices of producing information and knowledge, of knowing, and informing. A collective, multivocal autoethnographic method is used to obtain vignettes from five areas of activity in or related to archaeology. The ongoing digitization of archaeological investigation and documentation methods, and of archaeological materials, is used as a shared departure point in the vignettes, explaining how digitization influences documents in each area of archaeology. The vignettes illustrate a multitude of conceptions and materialities of documentation and reveal frictions, both within and between sub-disciplinary areas. In light of the exploration of documentation practices in archaeology, we posit that a neo-documentalist perspective functions as a useful analytical tool for deconstructing habitual and canonical conceptions of documentation in disciplines and practices. The approach is especially powerful for pinpointing and explicating frictions between conceptions of documentation that can cause problems in information sharing and communication. We discuss the potential of the neo-documentalist approach as a practical tool to plan for and implement change in documentation and document practices.

 

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