I take the fi rst part of my title from Francis Bacon’s reference to cabinets of curiosity as places where ‘whatsoever singularity and the shuffl e of things hath produced . . . shall be sorted and included’ (cit. Henare, 2005: 60). I do so in order to establish a connection with Bruno Latour’s discussion of the similarities between bureau of statistics, the storerooms for the maps produced by the Comte de La Perouse’s Pacifi c voyages, and the collections of natural history museums. These are all places whose occupants can ‘ combine, shuffl e around, superimpose and recalculate’ the relations between the statistics, texts and things they gather together to end up with, respectively, ‘a “gross national product” . . . “Sakhalin island”, or the “the taxonomy of mammals”’ (Latour, 1987: 227). Latour makes the point by way of stressing the importance for those engaged in scientifi c expeditions of producing ‘immutable and combinable mobiles’: that is, objects and texts which, no matter how old they are or how far distant from the sites at which they were collected, are ‘conveniently at hand and combinable at will’ (Latour, 1987: 227). It is through their pliable ‘combinability’ that such texts and objects can be assembled into new networks which, although produced at a distance – spatial and temporal – from their points of origin, may nonetheless make possible varied forms of action back on those points of origin, and elsewhere.