A multimodal photo essay training school at ReCNTR, University of Leiden, June 8-9, 2023.


This two-day multimodal photo essay workshop will bring together a maximum of 10 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are using photography as an integral part of their research practice. Drawing on theories and methods from the field of anthropology, visual studies, and geography, as well as from other fields of artistic, practice-based research and documentary image-making, this workshop and training school will equip participants with the skills needed to finalize photo essay projects. The workshop engages with the themes of memory, history and experience and draws from photography, its histories, and its potential as a tool for disseminating knowledge and producing more sensorial ways of engaging with these themes.

The workshop will focus on projects rooted in archival explorations. While projects can be diverse in terms of scope and subject matter, pitches should address inquiries into, engagements with, or analyses of archives and archival collections, be they official institutional collections or private, personal ones that are not typically understood as collections.

All participants will come to the training school workshops with a draft of a photo essay. They will leave with a completed version of this project and publication pitch that can be sent to academic journals or other editorial ventures that showcase image-driven research. The 2-day event will also culminate in a collective conversation about a potential special section to be published in Visual Anthropology Review. Training school workshops will be hands-on and experimental, and participants will be asked to contribute to this collaborative space via the presentation of their own work and their participation in crit reviews.

Workshop Leaders

This TRACTS workshop and training school will be facilitated by researchers, image-makers, and editors who are actively engaged in multimodal forms of knowledge production and in creating sustainable platforms for image-driven research, specifically Writing with Light Magazine and Visual Anthropology Review.

Craig Campbell University of Texas

Darcie DeAngelo University of Oklahoma

Lee Douglas Goldsmiths, University of London

Mark Westmoreland ReCNTR, Leiden University

Available Fellowships

TRACTS is offering 9 fellowships for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers based in Europe. Through a reimbursement scheme, these fellowships will cover travel and accommodation expenses. Students based locally will be eligible for local travel reimbursements. The workshop itself is free of charge.

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers outside of Europe can also participate, but their travel and accommodation will not be reimbursed.


All participants are asked to submit a pitch for a photo essay project. The project must be a work in progress, and the final project pitch dossier must be submitted by 11pm (GMT) on Monday, March 20th.

It should include:


A selection of 6-10 images that are part of a larger body of work about an issue or topic of your choice. The images must somehow relate to the concept of the trace and training school theme: “Archival Memories,” however, they can be directly from an archival collection and/or photos produced in relation to the theme. These images should not be captioned, but they can be sequenced or presented on the page in any format.

Conceptual Statement

A description of what you seek to achieve conceptually with your proposed photo essay. (Max. 250 words)

Questions relevant to a conceptual statement:

  • Does the photo essay narrate or analyze a fieldwork encounter? If so, how does it do so? What issues does it address?
  • Does the photo essay seek to communicate or elicit a sensorial response? If so, why? And, to what end?
  • What does this photo essay trace, track, or make visible? What does it say about the trace, the materiality of photographic and archival practices, or the role of visual technologies in mediating knowledge?

Work Plan

A description of how you will execute the work that highlights the steps you will take to transform your images into a self-contained photo essay ready for publication. (Max. 250 words)

Issues that you should address:

  • What design elements will be central to your photo essay’s overall layout and presentation?
  • What form will this essay take? How will image and text be placed on the page? 
  • Are there other material or digital supports that will be integral to the photo essay’s publication? Do you need to hold and touch the photo essay or can it be presented digitally?

Image Ethics

As projects that deal with archives and/or archival collections, please address any ethical issues that will be addressed. You should consider image permissions and questions of representation. (Max. 150 words)

Submission Details

Project pitches should be in submitted in PDF format and be no larger than 20MB.

All dossiers must be submitted by email tracts@st-andrews.ac.uk by 11pm (GMT) on Monday, March 20th with the following subject heading: ARCHIVES - First Name Last Name - Institution.

We will announce the participants by the end of March 2023.

Host Institution:

Collaborating Institutions:

Collaborating Editorial Projects:


We are pleased to announce the forthcoming meeting to discuss the TRACTS publishing futures.

The online meeting will take place online on the 8th of March during the afternoon session of the MC meeting in Cracow. The participants will discuss the plans for the book series envisioned as the Action's legacy. During the meeting, three interdisciplinary and international academic publishers will be identified. The participants will also identify the initial proposed titles. Lastly, the meeting will set out a clear timeline for the next steps in establishing the series.

Please see below the Zoom details for the meeting:


ID: 852 4095 6717

Passcode: 507762

What are the ethical challenges of tracing temporalities and researching collections in museums and earth archives?

We are delighted to invite you to the hybrid TRACTS workshop of WG2 and WG3.

WHEN:  27 - 28 April 2023

WHERE: Berlin and Potsdam

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP: Collections are sites for preserving traces of the past for the future. Acquired, cared for, and interpreted in museums and archives, they have been developed concurrently with scientific disciplines. In geosciences, collections of geological and stratigraphic specimens extracted from territories worldwide have served to mark deep time. They contribute to the scientific imagination of nature that can be contained and classified. Ethnographic collections acquired to represent peoples and cultures have rendered them as if frozen in time. Conservation practice has worked to keep objects timeless, reflecting the moment they entered the collection. This ahistorical perspective is entangled with coloniality and continues to affect collections' classification, safekeeping, and interpretation. This poses ethical challenges for both collections comprising ethnographic objects and those acquired in earth archives, holding records of human and more-than-human pasts.

Collections seek to tell a coherent story about “nature” or “culture” from traces of social lives and geological formations. However, these traces and their environments defy and challenge the classificatory efforts and measurement practices. Although collections are kept to span through time, their objects are not timeless. They require vast energy, materials, and infrastructure. The cost of prolonging the lives of things and keeping collections stable in museums and scientific archives creates ethical dilemmas regarding resource management, preservation, and sustainability.

Organized by the COST Action “Trace as a Research Agenda for Climate Change, Technology Studies, and Social Justice” (TRACTS), we critically explore the ethics of collections in museums and geological archives through the lens of temporality. The event seeks to ignite an interdisciplinary exchange between the disparate fields of inquiry in the critical studies of different forms of collections and archives. Using a range of case studies of collections and (earth) archives, we dig into the ethics of acquisition, preservation, interpretation, use, and re-activation of this material today and explore its potential for the future.

COORDINATORS: Magdalena Buchczyk, Martin Fonck, Tina Palaic and Tomas Uson


TRACTS members and interested members of the public can our event online


Meeting ID: 837 5454 3844

Passcode: 627687



Peripheral Memories, Transnational Mobilities: Decolonial Approaches to Visual & Material Traces of Empire

WG2 Meeting: Traces and Social Justice in Lisbon

As part of the WG2 meeting, we are organising a public panel discussion on the theme of reparation. Please join on 30th September at 18:30 (WEST) online.

The colonial project used violence, both overtly and covertly, to reorganize and control social life. Violence was exerted on and through bodies, but also on and through objects. This public dialogue brings together scholars, artists, and activists grappling with collective calls for restitution, for the return of art objects, and for public recognition of these histories of extraction. Drawing on multiple case studies and experiences, the participants will discuss different approaches to restitution and consider how these projects take form in Southern Europe, where histories of empire and dictatorship overlap.


Inês Beleza Barreiros is a visual archaeologist. Her research interests are located at the intersection of visual culture, memory studies and decolonial theory-praxis and their articulation within the history of the Portuguese empire, in particular its contemporary modes of existence. She also holds a special interest in indigenous cosmogonies, animal studies, and trees.

Lee Douglas is a filmmaker, curator, and visual anthropologist who work considers the intersections of history, memory, and visuality in contexts marked by violence, absence, and radical political change. She currently directs the research project “Militant Imaginaries, Colonial Memories”, funded with Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship.

Emanuel Matondo is a journalist and activist, currently based in Germany.  In 1998, he co-founded the Angolan Anti-Militarism Initiative for Human Rights (IAADH) where his responsibilities include research and public relations, lobbying, advocacy, and actions to promote peace.

Roger Sansi Roca is a sociocultural anthropologist and senior lecturer at the University of Barcelona. He is the author of Art, Anthropology and the GiftThe Anthropologist as Curator; and Fetishes and Monuments: Afro-Brazilian Art & Culture in the 20th Century.

Catarina Simão is an artist and researcher who lives and works between Maputo and Lisbon. Her practice is built upon long-term research projects that entail collaborative partnerships and different forms of presentation to the public. Since 2009, she has worked with the notion of Archive, engaging especially with Mozambique colonial and anti-colonial history. She co-directed a Mozambique TV film called Djambo in 2016 and in 2019 she co-organized together with Oficina de História (Mozambique) the 1st Seminar on Restitution of art and artefacts to Mozambique (CCFM, May 2019).

Organised by Lee Douglas and Inês Beleza Barreiros

6–7 October 2022. Madrid, Spain
WG1 and WG3 Meeting “Tracing (climate) crisis, visualizing change: Reimagining & activating a counter-atlas of the trace”

Tracing (climate) crisis, visualizing change: Reimagining & activating a counter-atlas of the trace

In this joint meeting, members of Working Groups 1 & 3 will discuss the elaboration of TRACTS (counter) atlas, thus initiating the TRACTS Atlas Curatorial Collective that will oversee the elaboration of the TRACTS Atlas, its articulation with the proposed book series, and its utility for the network’s broader mentoring goals. The two-day event will include separate workshop sessions for members of WG1 and WG3 that focus on the elaboration and discussion of pertinent bibliography regarding each group’s specific area of analysis and their connections with mapping, tracing, and creating atlas-inspired visualizations regarding the ethical, methodological, and conceptual approaches to the trace. #tractsresearch

30 September–1 October 2022. Lisbon, Portugal
WG1 Meeting - “Peripheral memories and transnational mobilities: Decolonial approaches to the material and visual traces of empire” 

In this Meeting, members of WG1 will discuss and share methodological, ethical, and theoretical approaches to understanding and analyzing the concept of the trace across multiple disciplines, particularly history, anthropology, migration studies, museum studies, and areas of artistic research and production. 

During the 20th century, countries in Southern Europe experienced a wave of dictatorships. Many of these projects also reinforced and/or contributed to projects of empire. Building on Michael Rothberg’s concept of “multidirectional memory,” which draws attention to how memory narratives in the public sphere are subject to forms of negotiation, mediation, and cross-referencing this meeting considers how artists, researchers, and activists engage with the material and visual traces of empire to articulate new forms of narrating and understanding the past, where multiple histories of violence can exist in dialogue. Thinking critically with concepts such as “periphery,” “semi-periphery,” and “contact zone,” the meeting will focus on how artists, researchers, activists, and practitioners are rethinking the politics of historical knowledge production while also reimagining how we engage with the traces of empire in ways that are decolonial, antiracist, and radical. 

The meeting will bring together early to mid-career researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds to present and discuss ongoing work on decolonial approaches to the visual and material traces of empire. Interrogating the categories of “periphery” and “semi-periphery,” the discussions will focus on how Southern Europe constitutes a unique contact zone, where a multiplicity of histories and experiences co-exist and overlap. Focusing on how communities, objects, and images move in, around, and cross different spaces, the meeting will consider how interrogating the visual and material traces of “empire” can be a point of departure for reimagining forms of political contestation, action, and reparation.  Combining internal working group sessions with public-facing programming, this event will open dialogue amongst artists, researchers, and decolonial activists whose work proposes innovative and radical approaches to rethinking the memories and histories of colonialism in Southern Europe. #tractsresearch