Project facts

Duration: 2016-03-01 - 2019-02-28
Project consortium: Politecnico di Milano (IT), Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin (DE), Universitetet I Oslo (NO), Zurcher Hochschule der Kunste (CH), Hosman Durabil (RO), Naturhistorisches Museum (AT), The University of Edinburgh (UK), Uniwersytet Jagiellonski (PL), University of Ulster (UK), Drustvo Za Domace Raziskave (SI)
Funding bodies: H2020-EU.3.6. - SOCIETAL CHALLENGES - Europe In A Changing World - Inclusive, Innovative And Reflective Societies
Subject areas: Collections, Ethnology, Heritage Management, Heritage values - Identity, Mediation - Education
Budget: € 2 711 052,50


European cultural heritage is inherently complex and layered. In the past, conflicting or controversial perspectives on different historical memories and experiences have been colliding in the rich cultural landscape of Europe and continue to do so in the present. These contentious heritages are often particularly difficult to convey to a wide public and can impede inclusivity as well as prevent the development of convivial relations. Nevertheless, if transmitted sensitively, they can contribute to a process of reflexive Europeanisation, in which the European imagination is shaped by self-awareness, on-going critical reflection, and dialogue across different positions.

TRACES is a three-year project funded in 2016 by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. Through an innovative research methodology, TRACES investigates the challenges and opportunities raised when transmitting complex pasts and the role of difficult heritage in contemporary Europe.

Impacts & Results

TRACES involves a multi-disciplinary team that brings together established and emerging scholars, artists, and cultural workers to develop a rigorous, creative and all-round investigation on contentious cultural heritages, and to experiment with innovative research methodologies. In order to achieve these objectives, TRACES has initiated a series of “Creative Co-Productions” in which artists, researchers, heritage agencies, and stakeholders collaborate on long-term projects researching selected cases of contentious heritage and developing new participatory public interfaces. Theoretical investigations pertaining to different research fields and disciplines will support and complement these art-based research actions, analysing and expanding their outcomes with the aim to identify new directions for cultural institutions and museums to effectively transmit contentious cultural heritage and contribute to evolving European identities.

TRACES art-based research actins are supported and complemented by theorical and empirical investigations pertaining to six main research fields:

  • Artistic Research: Creative co-production beyond intervention analyses and develops participatory methods and models of innovative contemporary creative collaborations between artists, researchers, heritage agencies, and their stakeholders.
  • Ethnographic Research: Research on/with Art production critically examines the collaborative processes between art and research also in relation to challenges posed by the post-colonial legagy of museums' collections.
  • Research on Education and Stakeholder involvement investigates learning and exhibiting contentious cultural heritage in Europe, in order to identify ways in which educational settings can provide spaces of conflict and negotiation.
  • Performing Heritage: Creative Everyday Practices in Popular Culture conducts ethnographic fieldwork into contentious heritages with a focus on intangible heritage. As the theoretical backbone of the project, it evaluates, contextualises and brings together practical and theorical results from TRACES investigations for public use.
  • Contentious Collections: Research on Material Cutlure of Difficult Cultural Heritage undertakes comparative and contextual analysis in order to identify the particular challenges and potential involved in transmitting contentious cultural heritage and to identify new ways of mediating difficult collections.
  • Dissemination and Communication activities aim is to effectively communicate and promote Project outcomes by researching and developing innovative infrastructures for knowledge communication in the field of heritage and museum studies.