Hacking the Postcard

Speaker Series:

“Hacking the Postcard”

With Dr. Mascha Gugganig (Munich Center for Technology in Society) and Sophie Schor (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Have you ever wondered why postcards have become so out of fashion? Or is this medium merely a distant remnant of your parents’ and grandparents’ generation? In times of instant communication via emails, social media and zoom, is there a place for postcards? And, is there a place for postcards in ethnographic work?

Postcards follow a different temporality of communication, they can be created and readapted for other purposes than holiday greetings, and they are tactile, material objects that may contrast, or be used in combination with virtual media formats. Postcards also embody colonial traces of fetishizing places and people as distant ‘other,’ while the interplay between image and text may also pose a critique of this legacy. This workshop offers a glimpse into the possibilities of a closer engagement with this cardboard medium for the purpose of ethnographic research. Particularly in current pandemic times, where life both slows down and becomes more intense, communication and engagement with our work, research participants and co-thinkers changes as well. Arts-based, multimodal approaches to communication tools and their materialities open up many, often unexpected forms of engagement. As this is an interactive workshop, please bring one or two postcards to this workshop, or material to create postcards.

For further reading:

Gugganig, M. and S. Schor. 2020b. Multimodal Ethnography in/of/as Postcards. American Anthropologist 122(3): 691-697.

Gugganig, M. and S. Schor. 2020a. Teaching (with) Postcards: approaches in the classroom, the field, and the community. Teaching Anthropology: a Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2(9): 56-65.

McGuirk, S. 2019. Notes on a Postcard. Allegra Lab Blog.

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