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Consequences of Classification: Systemic Violence Against Marginalized Communities

Time: Dec. 4, 2017, 5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Location: Peter Graham Room 114, Bird Library

Part of the Syracuse Symposium

Part of the Syracuse Symposium series.

Melissa Adler (University of Western Ontario)

Systems of classification exist across every field, from biological taxonomies to library shelves. These systems reflect the values of their creators and exert power in defining relationships of belonging. Using classifications as primary historical texts and conceptualizing them as systems that organize state and cultural discourses, Adler will discuss some of the processes by which the marginalization of queer and racialized subjects becomes systemic, and ways that critical analysis reveals possibilities for organizing otherwise. Interdisciplinary fields, such as critical animal studies, disability studies, queer studies, and critical race studies are deeply invested in the critique and production of taxonomies and language, and while they share similar histories of oppression, their subjects push the limits of classifications in unique and compelling ways.

About the speaker:  Adler's research concerns the history of library classifications as they intersect with state and cultural discourses about race and sexuality. Her book, Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge (Fordham University Press, 2017), examines the history of sexuality through the lens of Library of Congress classifications. Adler's next project, tentatively called "Organizing Knowledge to Save the World," is a feminist critique of knowledge organization systems that aspire to universality in reach, scope, or design. She is particularly interested in the creators of systems from the Enlightenment era to the present who claim that global security and peace may be made possible through sharing knowledge, as well as the roles that knowledge organization plays in securing national identity and memory. Adler currently teaches Research Methods & Statistics in the MLIS program at Western University.

Rachel Clarke, Patrick Williams, iSchool, SU Libraries