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How I benefitted from a Kellogg College Travel Grant

May 11, 2022

In 2021 Aayushi Gupta (MPhil Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology) was awarded a Kellogg College Travel Grant. The grant is awarded to Kellogg students studying for a DPhil or MPhil, and is aimed at helping them meet travel, registration and attendance costs when presenting their work at conferences, or to help meet the travel expenses of research trips.

Read how the Travel Grant benefitted Aayushi’s MPhil research.

For my MPhil thesis I am examining how the economic value of historical images – that is postcards of British India – is constructed in the marketplace, that is at postcard fairs and auctions, and on online commercial platforms like eBay, and specialist collectors’ websites like Delcampe and CollectorsBazar. As part of this, I conducted fieldwork over the summer of 2021, visiting postcard fairs, auction houses, and my interlocutors’ homes and workspaces to conduct interviews. By covering the costs of my travel to these various sites, this grant has allowed me to gather knowledge, resources, and material that has proved extremely useful for analysis in my thesis.

As a phenomenon, postcard fairs are peculiar to Britain, Europe, and North America, and under normal (non-Covid) circumstances, dealers and collectors from across the world gather here to buy and sell postcards. Despite Covid and subsequently reduced capacity, the fairs have allowed me access into the deltiology community in Britain; to meet dealers and collectors; to participate in the very economic practice that I am studying; and even to build my very own modest collection of postcards! The benefit of visiting these fairs becomes especially evident when compared with my experiences of trying to access the deltiology community in India. For this I relied solely on internet searches and email/WhatsApp communications. Because of this, I have not been able to speak with as many dealers and collectors in India as I have in Britain, simply by visiting the fairs. The fairs are therefore an important aspect of postcard collecting for my interlocutors, and this grant has allowed me to understand this.

In addition to the fairs, this grant has also allowed me to interview my interlocutors in their homes and workspaces. This too has been incredibly useful as it provided my interlocutors the opportunity to illustrate their responses with postcards and other ephemera from their collections. Most postcard dealers have several thousands of postcards in their stock, but only a portion of  these collections can be loaded into vans and driven three or four hours to the fairs. This meant that, at times, when I approached dealers to enquire about the Indian cards in their stock, they could not offer anything as they simply hadn’t brought these with them that day. Due to this, and the fact that postcard fairs are simply too loud and busy to conduct recorded interviews, dealers suggested that I interview them in their homes instead, which was incredibly useful; some dealers that I interviewed even gave me books, reading material, and other resources that have proved extremely useful for my research.

The research project that I have embarked upon has necessitated my travel across the UK, whether to fairs or to visit my interlocutors to conduct interviews. This grant has allowed me to do this, and consequently add great depth to my research. I am very grateful to my college for this.

Kellogg College Travel Grant applications are considered termly. The deadline for submitting an application is noon on Friday of 5th Week; they must reach the Academic Administrator, Kellogg College, by noon on that date. Find out more