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Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow 2020-2023, Research School of Humanities and the Arts, Australian National University

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

Elisa's work has been published in leading photography journals internationally including, History of Photography; Photography and Culture and Early Popular Visual Culture. In 2018, she was independently 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. She has recently collaborated with Kaurna artist, James Tylor on making a daguerreotype portrait for the re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery, London and with artist, Craig Tuffin, on a series of daguerreotype portraits which meditate on seven Australians’ professional and personal connections with historic photography. This series is on tour around regional Australian galleries. 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.

Elisa is currently working on a monograph about early photography in colonial Australia which has been contracted by Melbourne University Press.


  • –present
    Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow 2020-2023, Australian National University

Grants and Contracts

  • 2020
    Capturing foundational Australian photography in a globalising world DE200101322
    Primary Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Australian Research Council