Bureaucracy : Locating


Locating occurs through acts of compilation, as people assemble individual pieces of information or material objects into a whole.  We locate ourselves in the world, in nations, and in states by arranging information and specimens into meaningful relationships, and it is in this acts of arrangement that we determine our relationship to that information and thus to the places and histories it represents.  Bureaucratic forms facilitate these arrangements, even as they instruct users about their place on local and global scales.  

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, historian, naturalist, and transcendentalist. Published in the year following Thoreau’s death, Excursions is an anthology of the writer’s travelogues and essays, most reprinted from the Atlantic Monthly, to which Thoreau was a frequent contributor. 

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Wildflowers from Palestine features seventeen pressed and mounted flowers from an area now composed of parts of Jordan, Israel, and Israeli occupied territories.  Each specimen is assembled alongside a corresponding poem or Biblical reference, as well as a descriptive paragraph detailing the flower’s place in Biblical history, its appearance in the Bible, its location in Palestine, and its physical appearance.

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This 1852 map of the state of Texas was engraved by James Hamilton Young and accompanied Mitchell’s School Geography, the most popular geographic textbook of the mid-nineteenth century, written by Samuel A. Mitchell (1790-1868). 

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Map of the state of Texas

A Texas Scrap-Book was first published in 1875, the result of Dewitt Baker’s years of collecting information about Texas history. He focused in particular on the Texas Revolution, the 1835-36 war in which the colony of Texas declared its independence from Mexico and established the Texas Republic. 

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