The politics of boundary objects: hegemonic interventions and the making of a document

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Isto Huvila


JASIST, Volume 62, Number 12, p.2528–2539 (2011)



Boundary objects are artifacts that reside in the interface between communities and are capable of bridging assumed and experienced differences. Bridging is not, however, necessarily a neutral or a consensual activity. With an emphasis on documents, the present article discusses the politics of boundary objects by analyzing the role of archaeological reports at boundaries between communities with conflicting interests. The analysis demonstrates and discusses the political and purposeful nature of boundary objects—how they are devices for creating and maintaining hegemonies within communities and achieving authority over other intersecting groups of people. The study uses the notion of hegemony and the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe (2001) to conceptualize the role of boundary objects as articulations of power and to explicate the dynamics of how the power is exercised.


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