Professor Sigrid Lien

IP Leader
LLE, University of Bergen
N-5007 Parkvei 20 Bergen Norway
+47 55583201
External Website Address: 


 Sigrid Lien is an art historian. She has worked extensively on photography and Norwegian culture, and on the visual culture of Norwegian emigration, especially to the United States. She is head of the research group Visual Culture, University of Bergen, (since 2007), a member of leadership group of the NordForsk network Visions of th Past:Images as Historical Sources and the History of Art History (2008-2011), and a member of leadership group of the NordForsk network Nordic Network for the History and Aesthetics of Photography (2003-2007).


Research Interests: 

 Photography, modern and contemporary art, visual culture, cultural theory, museums, archives, exhibitions.


 2009. ‘From the margins to canonisation- Photography in the Norwegian

art arena 1971-2005’, in: Gothenburg Studies in Art and Architecture,

Acta Universitatis Gothenburgensis.


2009. Lengselens bilder. Fotografiet i norsk emigrasjonshistorie. Oslo: Spartacus Forlag.

2008. Kunsten å lese bilder, with Peter Larsen. Oslo: Spartacus Forlag.

2008. ”Derfor skriver jeg bok: Kunsten å lese bilder”, with Peter Larsen.

Bedre skole, nr. 4. 

2007. Norsk fotohistorie. Frå daguerreotypi til digitalisering, with Peter

Larsen. Oslo: Det norske Samlaget

2007.‘Varm visuell retorikk i kald krig: Noen kunsthistoriske betraktninger

omkring etterkrigstidens russiske plakatkunst’, i: La oss hauste den store

avlinga. Russiske plakatar 1945-65. Hå gamle prestegård: Hå gamle

prestegard/ Skule- og kulturetaten i Hå.

2005. ”The Wild Duck and Other Stories”, Konsthistorisk tidskrift, vol 74,

no 2, p.82-94.

2002. “The Aesthetics of Sports Photography”, Nordicom Review, 23 (1-2)

September, Gøteborg, pp.215-235.

2001. ’Not the proper way, but many proper ways to think about

pictures’-  Intensjonalitet og historisk rekonstruksjon i Michael Baxandall’s

Patterns of Intention”, Kunst og Kultur, Nr.2, p.104-119.

Project Title: 

Professor Susan Legêne

IP Leader
VU University Amsterdam
Faculty of Arts - History Department De Boelelaan 1105 (12A-29) 1081 HV Amsterdam The Netherlands
External Website Address: 

 Susan Legêne is professor of Political History at VU University, Faculty of Arts/History Department. Prior to this, she was head of the Curatorial Department of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. Her work focuses on the ways in which material and visual collections from the colonial past provide valuable sources to explore processes of cultural canon formation through past academic research traditions and exhibition practices. In this context, PhotoCLEC is also linked to her international research programme Sites, Bodies and Stories; the dynamics of heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands (2008-2013).


Research Interests: 

 Colonialism and processes of decolonization in relationship to nation building and (transnational) citizenship, both in Europe and in the once colonial countries.


2008. Collection policies and approaches   (2008-   2012) of the Tropenmuseum, With Koos van Brakel Amsterdam KIT Publishers (Bulletin


 2009. 'Dwinegeri -- Multiculturalism  and the Colonial past (or: The Cultural Borders of Being Dutch).' In: Benjamin Kaplan, Marybeth Carlson, Laura Cruz (eds.), Boundaries and their Meanings in the  History of the Netherlands. Leiden/Boston: Brill, pp. 223--242.

2008. ‘Flatirons and the Folds of History: On Archives, Cultural Heritage

and Colonial Legacies’ In Travelling Heritages: New Perspectives. Askant, pp 47-64.

2007. 'Mission Interrupted: Gender, History and   the Colonial Canon,' with Berteke Waaldijk,. In: M. Grever and S. Stuurman (eds), Beyond the Canon. History  for the Twenty-first Century. New York:Palgrave Macmillan,pp. 188-204. 

2007. ‘Enlightenment, Empathy, Retreat: The Cultural Heritage of the

Ethische Politiek’, in P. ter Keurs (ed.), Colonial Collections Revisited. (Leiden CNWS Publications), 22. 220-245. (Mededelingen van het Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde Leiden no. 36).

2007. From India to Suriname: A journey into the future narrated by two photograph albums (1913-1930). Allahabad: Manav Vikas Sangrahalaya – GB Pant Institute, [Bidesia Occasional papers Series no. 2).

2004. ‘Photographic Playing Cards. Teaching the Dutch Colonialism.’ In: E.  Edwards and J.Hart (eds.), Photographs Objects Histories. On the  Materiality of Images. London: Routledge, pp. 96-112.

2003. ‘De mythe van een etnisch homogene nationale identiteit 

Kanttekeningen bij de verwerking van

het koloniale verleden in de

Nederlandse geschiedenis’ in  Tijdschrft voor Geschiedenis 116(4), pp.


Project Title: 

New online photographic resource opens window on Europe's colonial legacy

17 July 2012

An international research project looking at the photographic records of Europe’s colonial past has launched a website today.

The project called PhotoCLEC is researching how colonial photographs have been used, engaged with and experienced by both museums and their audiences.

Its new website ( explores the different ways in which photographs from the colonial past have been used by museums, as spaces of public history, to communicate and interpret the colonial past in a postcolonial and multicultural Europe.

Researchers examined practices and collections in a wide range of institutions in the UK, the Netherlands and Norway.

The focus on photograph collections enabled the researchers to trace the patterns of ‘nationalizing’ the colonial past as expressed in different narratives related to the three countries.

Using photographs the research has revealed similarities and differences in the ways in which different European nations have addressed and visualised (or failed to do so) this formative past within national and European historical narratives.

The project has been led by Professor Elizabeth Edwards of De Montfort University (DMU), who said of the resource: “Our aim has been a comparative understanding of the mechanisms through which public histories of the colonial past work, because these go to the heart of the way contemporary European identities are negotiated.

“We used the photographic legacy as the prism through which to explore these issues because the visual record has a complicated immediacy that sits, often unacknowledged, at the centre of the ways in which contemporary history is imagined.

“Our extensive interviews with curators and other relevant stakeholders, have contributed to a better understanding of the rich potential of photograph collections to re-establish relationships between national and European history, and to acknowledge Europe’s multiple colonial past as a relevant force in contemporary society.

“The website is designed as a didactic tool for practitioners and students in the field, introducing key themes which get little or no airing elsewhere.”

In the UK the focus has been on a study of museum practices at the intersection of photograph collections and the colonial past.

Under the title “Photographic Heritage: ‘Difficult’ Histories and Cultural Futures”, led by Professor Edwards, it has addressed issues of the management and representation of ‘the colonial past’ in UK museums.

It looks at the contexts of, on the one hand, the specifics of UK cultural politics and state-managed multiculturalism, and on the other hand, within PhotoCLEC’s comparative frame.

In the Netherlands, “Indies Images of the Colonial Everyday in a Multi-ethnic Postcolonial Society”, focused on the histories represented in the Dutch and Indo-Dutch photographic legacy of colonialism.

The starting point has been the 60.000 photographs collected in an Indo-Dutch photograph collections created after decolonization by IWI (Indisch Wetenschappelijk Instituut, or Indo-Dutch Scientific Institute). These photographs had been digitized, and the originals donated to the Tropenmuseum.

The Norwegian project, “Foreign and Home Images of Unacknowledged Colonial Legacies” explored how the photographic legacy of the specific Norwegian colonial-style and colonial related activities are  addressed in museums and archives. It also traced patterns of competing histories and outline key theoretical and analytical frameworks.

A major achievement of PhotoCLEC has been to bring into question the way ‘the colonial’ works as a category in museums, and the work of photographs in bringing these problems of inclusion or exclusion to the surface.

This enabled a comparative debate on photographs and the workings and effects of colonial nostalgia. Both colonial disavowal and colonial engagement were at stake in the three PhotoCLEC countries, creating a peculiar memory take on national historiography.

The project saw how in some instances, (as in the case of the Sami in Norway) colonial photographs were deliberately not put on display in order to allow for new interpretations of their past society and culture beyond colonial visual legacies.

In other cases (as in the case of the Indo-Dutch communities in the Netherlands) collecting and interpreting photographs from the colonial past was chosen as a strategy to empower the immigrant minority group.

Across the three European countries studied, there was a marked difference in the willingness of museums to engage with the centrality of the colonial past in European history and identity. Much of this, the researchers found, depends on the ways in which ‘the colonial’ is constructed in the public imagination and degree to which both European and ‘ethnic minority and immigrant groups’ wished to position the colonial past as a shared history, and the level of willingness to confront its challenges.


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