Postcards from the edge of another time

written by MCS team
14/10/20

No specific location-Postcards carry one world into another, just like ethnography (Pandian and McLean 2017). Their layered materiality—the chocolate stains and pen smudges, curled corners, fluorescent barcodes, spots faded from sun exposure, and, of course, the stamps—carry traces not only of trips through postboxes, sorting machines, and airplanes but also of other, imagined worlds.... So begins an open access article we had published recently in American Anthropologist. Titled "Thumbnail Sketches: Learning the Worlds of Others through Collaborative Imaginative Ethnography", the piece was part of a larger special issue with amazingly creative contributions by other anthropologists. The special issue was foreworded with the essay "Special Section on Multimodal Postcards" by Sophie Schor and Mascha Gugganig, the collection accompanying their umbrella article in the journal "Multimodal Ethnography in/of/as Postcards". One of the loveliest aspects of this collaboration is that all the authors of the special issue have written postcards to each other, after the publication. Anna just received one the other day, a joyful sensory message in a day of emails.  

If you have read other posts here in the logbook, you will know that during our fieldwork we wrote postcards to each other. The postcards documented observations, ideas, dilemmas, puzzles, and everyday happenings. They could only ever be thumbnail sketches—a moment or thought caught, a question that arose or a short greeting. But as we have learned in our project, from studying how doctors learn physical examination skills, there is a world of information in a thumbnail.

Please do read more on the American Anthropologist website. Below you can find 5 things our research team loves about postcards as one way (of many) to keep in touch:
1. the extras – the chocolate stains and pen smudges, stamps and barcodes
2. pictures on the front also tell their own stories
3. the sensuous nature of handwriting and paper
4. the slowness, delay and expectation
5. the brevity and economy of space

 

The front of some of the postcards we sent each other during fieldwork

This sensory exhibit is part of 4S/EASST 2020 “Making and Doing” sessions. This Making and Doing project plays with the notion of ‘simulation’ and ‘comparison’, by offering a sensorially-immersive (online) installation that attends to the affective atmospheres, materials, and multisensory and embodied knowledge entailed in the fieldsites and practices of our research. This Making and Doing project plays with the notion of ‘simulation’ and ‘comparison’, by offering a sensorially-immersive (online) installation that attends to the affective atmospheres, materials, and multisensory and embodied knowledge entailed in the fieldsites and practices of our research. We are three ethnographers and one historian on the European Research Council funded project ‘Making Clinical Sense’, which investigates the materiality of medical education in Ghana, Hungary, and the Netherlands. In all three sites, the simulation of patient bodies was used, in part, to help students’ bodies become more knowledgeable. Much like the educators in these three schools, we are interested in finding ways of educating bodies and communicating bodily knowledge—however, while medical educators attempt to reproduce medical practice, we explore the sensory reproduction of practices for academic consideration. Taking practices of comparison seriously, we create three sensory-immersive experiences, allowing space for visitors to do comparative work too. How might such simulation and comparison investigate and disrupt local narratives and global networks of knowledge production?

Some MCS correspondence Anna has received during quarantine

In a previous logbook post we mentioned the Auzoux workshops, which made papier mache anatomical models. Here is a postcard from this handcrafted past.

Auzoux workshop postcard

Image of Auzoux studios from Wikimedia, used under the Creative Commons lisence. Other image my own.

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Publication

Postcards from the edge of another time

by MCS team
October 14, 2020
Event

Embodied meeting

by Anna Harris
October 5, 2020
Publication

Digital stethoscopes

by Anna Harris
August 26, 2020