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Quod non est in actis, non est in mundo. (What is not on file is not in the world.) Once files are reduced to the status of stylized icons on computer screens, the reign of paper files appears to be over. With the epoch of files coming to an end, we are free to examine its fundamental influence on Western institutions. From a media-theoretical point of view, subject, state, and law reveal themselves to be effects of specific record-keeping and filing practices. Files are not simply administrative tools; they mediate and process legal systems. The genealogy of the law described in Vismann's Files ranges from the work of the Roman magistrates to the concern over one's own file, as expressed in the context of the files kept by the East German State Security. The book concludes with a look at the computer architecture in which all the stacks, files, and registers that had already created order in medieval and early modern administrations make their reappearance.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780804751513
ISBN-10: 080475151X
Format: Paperback
(5817mm x 3887mm x 15mm)
Pages: 216
Imprint: Stanford University Press
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publish Date: 7-Apr-2008
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Cornelia Vismann

Cornelia Vismann is currently a researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She worked for many years previously as a lawyer in Berlin and the former East Berlin.