Teaching (with) Postcards: Approaches in the classroom, the field, and the community


  • Mascha Gugganig Technical University Munich
  • Sophie Schor




This article showcases the pedagogical possibilities of working with postcards for teaching anthropology and related disciplinary fields by introducing a set of multifaceted tools and examples. It provides a framework for tangible reflexive teaching practices and a research methodology that supports, both intellectually and emotionally, a vibrant and mobile community of scholars. We commence with the emergence of the postcard, and its (widely undervalued) role as a research subject in the social sciences. Examples from the arts, literature, teaching and research offer inspiration for engaged and creative teaching formats. These cases support our claim that as seemingly ‘anachronistic’ object of communication, postcards are useful for teaching in the classroom, for teaching ethnography, and for community-based work and teaching. In fact, as a traveling communication device, the repurposed postcard lends itself to connect the oft-physically and conceptually divided spaces of the classroom and the ethnographic ‘field.’ Concurrently, the opening of postcards allows for a critique of the medium’s historical use in exoticization the ‘other.’ In other writing [anonymized], we explore in more detail the multimodal qualities of working ethnographically on, within, or through postcards. We here extend the pedagogical potentials to use postcards for innovative approaches in ethnographic research, public anthropology, and applied community work.





Developing Teaching: Reports and Reflections