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Elisa deCourcy

Elisa deCourcy is an art historian and curator, specialising in the history of photography. She has held a competitive Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship based at the Australian National University. Her DECRA project ‘Capturing Foundational Australian Photography in a Globalising World’ (April 2020 – December 2023) reconsidered the arrival of photography to the Australian colonies and how the technology was experienced during its mid-century decades of practice. It combined archival research, practice-led investigation and consultation with First Nations Communities on heritage collections of colonial photography.

In 2018, Elisa was awarded a Harry Ransom Fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin and an Australian Academy of Humanities Publishing Subsidy Award. Both of these grants contributed to an extended book project, Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: the global career of showman daguerreotypist J.W. Newland, co-authored with Martyn Jolly and released by Routledge in 2021. Elisa’s work has been published in leading photography journals including, History of Photography; Photography and Culture and Early Popular Visual Culture. She has recently collaborated with Kaurna artist, James Tylor on making a daguerreotype portrait for the re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Elisa’s research has been covered by The Guardian (AU, NZ, and UK), The Smithsonian Magazine and The Conversation. She has been commissioned to write about the photography for the National Portrait Gallery, London; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and the National Gallery of Victoria.

In 2023 she was one of twelve international early-career fellows selected for the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome’s photography intensive and an invited speaker at the Bodleian Library, at the University of Oxford. Elisa is currently finishing a monograph about early photography in colonial Australia which has been contracted for publication with Melbourne University Press in 2024.

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