C&C announcement, education, Travel writing, Writing

Episode 20: COVID Series Part V: Turning Negatives into Positives

Our last episode in the COVID series is now available!

Dr Ann Wand Wand sits down with Dr Kristin Stasiowski of Kent State University, independent scholar, Dr Mounia Mnouer, and PhD Candidate of the University of Munich, Sohaib Riaz, to discuss how they have rediscovered their passions for family, hobbies, and nature during times of global crisis.

If you’re interested in listening to Dr Stasiowski’s talk (September 19th at 4pm BST) on discovering your talents during times of crisis, sign up to listen live on Patreon by September 18th.

The Show Notes:

Reading suggestions from Dr Mounia Mnouer:

Here is an article in the Atlantic about the power of diaries in the time of the pandemic, and how preserving these diaries as archives is important for future generations:

‘Dear Diary: This Is My Life in Quarantine’: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/08/why-are-people-keeping-coronavirus-diaries/614977/

This is the poem I wrote about my grandmother entitled, ‘A letter to Nanna’ (Spillwords Press): https://spillwords.com/a-letter-to-nanna/

This is a piece that allowed me to reconnect with my Indigeneity after the chats with my family entitled, ‘The resilient Amazigh’: https://themetric.org/articles/the-resilient-amazigh

Reading suggestions from Sohaib Riaz:

Anthropological work on stamp collecting is scant, however this small essay can be a really good starter for anyone interested in anthropology and philately:

‘Reconsidering the Smallest of Artifacts: on the Origins of Philatelic Collecting’ by Paul van der Grijp: https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/MCR/article/view/17983/21979

Reading suggestions from Dr Kristin Stasiowski:

I would recommend ‘Walden’ by Thoreau; ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson; and ‘American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation’ by Eric Rutkow. 

In terms of comparative material when reflecting on Mounia’s discussion of the French colonization of Morocco, I was reminded of Mazza Mengiste’s ‘The Shadow King’ about Italy’s war in Ethiopia: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/25/763907282/the-shadow-king-is-a-gorgeous-meditation-on-memory-war-and-violence 

Sohaib’s focus on stamp collecting reminded me of an article I read this year about Primo Levi and how stamps were used in a remembrance project with regard to the Holocaust called ‘Remembrance through Stamps — A Reminder and Our Promise’: https://stamps.org/news/c/news/cat/local/post/remembrance-through-stamps-a-reminder-and-our-promise

C&C announcement, education

Sohaib Bodla on ‘Turning Negatives into Positives’


Our next podcast episode on ‘Turning Negatives into Positives’ features three very interesting academics who life stories during this pandemic are worth sharing with everyone. Our first speaker is Sohaib Riaz (Author name: Sohaib Bodla), PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Munich, Germany, who will be talking to us about his love of philately (stamp collecting) and how the lock down has reconnected him with his childhood memories.
I started my field work in early January this year in Pakistan but had to stop in mid-March because like many, I wanted to be together with my family. I was lucky enough to board one of the last flights to reach Germany before the lockdown started. I spent the recommended quarantine time alone at home, while my wife and child stayed with my father-in-law. Along with transcribing my interviews and watching recommended movies, I decided to look deeper into my stamp collection, and decided to join a couple of Twitter platforms to showcase my collection and make new friends by sending and receiving postcards, writing letters, and exchanging stamps around the globe. This ‘Social Philately’ connected me to the memories of my early teen years when I had a pen friend. Since my current research is about part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan, I started looking into the stamps about Kashmir issued by Pakistan.
This led me to better see how stamps often become objects of contention, politics, fake pictures, and propaganda. Stamps are also objects which have historical, artistic, political, social, monetary, and aesthetic appeal. They are objects frozen in time revealing the past in a certain context. These characteristics were fascinating for my research and helped me to see the role objects play in our everyday lives. Rediscovering my hobby also helped me to see my own research from a different perspective by seeing the way Pakistan has presented Kashmir in the form of stamps.