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INTRODUCTION

The concept of "traces" or "footprints" is a useful one for the study of the collaborative practices of informing (see, for example, Foster, 2006, pp. 340-347). Documents may be seen to carry the traces of the subjects and objects they describe (Frohmann, 2008), and users of physical or digital documents may leave behind evidence of their use that is taken up by subsequent users as informative. Through the inscriptions made by previous authors and readers, documents used in collaborative environments can record, mediate, and co-ordinate the work of those who are invested in a single project though they may be responsible for different tasks, located in different places, and held to different timelines (Davies & McKenzie, 2004).

Although they may not be preserved in documentary form, traces are also evident in interpersonal interactions, as when speakers invoke past experiences or outside sources as informative for the present occasion. The objective of this chapter is to analyze the ways that midwives and child- bearing women produce, take up, call on, and use references to people, places and events outside of their here-and-now interaction as they collaborate in presenting, discussing, and interpreting clinical findings. Analyzing institutional talk can reveal traces of work done in other places or at other times (Smith, 1990; McKenzie, 2006) and can show how the institutional work of informing is necessarily collaborative even when it appears not to be (McKenzie, 2009). The analysis of traces provides insight into both the hows and the whats (Holstein & Gubrium, 2005) of "the intertwined, institutionally disciplined, documentary and non- documentary practices from which 'information' emerges as an effect" (Frohmann, 2004, p. 198).


  

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