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Words by Tina Palaić

Traces as a research agenda for climate change, technology studies, and social justice - TRACTS

TRACTS is a new COST Action (2021-2025) that brings together scholars from disciplines of the social sciences and humanities with artists, decolonial activists, environmentalists, memorialization experts and legal professionals to strengthen research on traces. A trace, be it object, trail, ruin, archival record, or memory, is both a mark and a track of the past and the future, that can be found and followed in the present (Napolitano 2015). Focusing on the conceptual, methodological and ethical challenge of traces, the TRACTS explores three main topics: climate change, technology studies, and social justice. It is composed of five working groups, each focused on a different research objective.

Working Group 1, Trace as ethical, methodological, and conceptual challenge, aims to identify and articulate emerging debates on traces in the light of inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary approaches to this area of study.

Working Group 2, Traces and Social Justice, will focus on exploring the life of traces in contemporary social, political, and historical struggles connected to the legacies of mass violence, colonialism, and gender and class inequality.

Working Group 3, Traces and Climate Change, will advance perspectives on traces in relation to climate change, specifically the social impact of natural disasters, the loss of biodiversity, and environmental degradation.

Working Group 4, Traces and Technology, will advance cross-disciplinary research exploring links between tracing and technology. It will focus on the subjects of sound, big data, algorithmic computation, technologies of knowledge, surveillance, and emergency governance in connection to digital traces.

Working Group 5, Dissemination and Science Communication, will communicate network outputs effectively in ways that target key stakeholder groups.


TRACTS is organized around several activities: scientific workshops, symposia, conferences, panels, training activities, short term scientific missions, exhibitions, and publications. The aim of the TRACTS network is to grow globally and thematically. You can find more details about the overarching objective of the network and how each of the working groups are structured here. If you would like to join the network, you can apply to join any of the working groups at the above link.