Personal profile

Research interests

Xavier Ribas' work explores notions of practice and experience of space, the relationship between centre and periphery, the built and the unbuilt environment, and the contemporary fragmentation of landscape. In a wider context his research considers the relationship of man and territory, engaging with the notion of the production of space (ref: Lefebvre), the practice of space and the everyday (ref: de Certeau) and the notion of anthropological place (Ref: Augé). 

Ribas' documentary photographic practice embraces cross-disciplinary approaches to research. Trained as an anthropologist interested in geography (ref: Davis, Harvey), microhistory and the philosophy of history (ref: Bloch, Benjamin), his work is also informed by former professional experience in the fields of urban planning and architecture. His large photographic grids, often including text, archive materials and moving image, investigate histories and geographies of abandonment, contested sites and objects, temporary settlements, spaces of urban corporate development and exclusion, border territories, and geographies of extraction.

Xavier Ribas, along with Louise Purbrick, is Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded research project Traces of Nitrate: Mining History and Photography Between Britain and Chile, developed at the University of Brighton in collaboration with Chilean photographer Ignacio Acosta, who completed a PhD in 2016 as part of the project. The research investigates the histories and legacies of British investment in Chilean nitrate and copper mines and involvement in global trafficking. Through an examination of sites, artifacts and images, the project traces nitrate and copper’s route from natural mineral state processed in the Atacama Desert and the Andean mountain range through transported commodities and stock market exchange value to become, ultimately, part of the material and symbolic inheritance of London mansions and estates in the capital’s surrounding countryside. It undertakes new photographic documentation of geographically disparate but historically connected landscapes, remote sites of extraction and metropolitan financial districts, accompanied by an analysis of these commodities' material and visual culture.

Traces of Nitrate has received three AHRC awards:




Traces of Nitrate has also attracted external funding from partners in Spain, UK and Chile. A comprehensive website of the research and public outcomes to date exists here:

Xavier Ribas studied BA Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain (1990) and Documentary Photography at the Newport School of Art and Design (1993). He has been involved in many international exhibitions including the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Stedelijk Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Bluecoat Liverpool, Le Bal, Aperture Gallery, George Eastman House, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Centro Huarte de Arte Contemporáneo and the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo.

His work is represented in major public and private collections including the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Stedelijk Museum, Fonds Nacional d'Art Contemporain, Museo Universidad de Navarra, Fotocollectie Universiteit Leiden, Fondazione MAST, Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporáneo, and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo.

He has received awards, commissions and fellowships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2012-16, 2017-18, 2021-24), the International Photography Research Network (2006), Commande Publique du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication/Centre National des Arts Plastiques (2006), and Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail (2007-2008), among others.

Ribas has also collaborated on research, exhibition and publication projects with the Universidad de Salamanca (1998, 2000, 2009), Universitat Politècnica de València (2008), Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail (2007-2008), Universiteit Leiden (2006), UNIACC Santiago (2010), and Universidad de Navarra (2009, 2014-2015).

Supervisory Interests

Xavier Ribas is interested in developing postgraduate research in the following areas: contested sites and histories, legacies of colonialism, border territories, geographies of extraction, environmentalism, climate justice, art and activism. 

External positions

Associate Lecturer, Universitat Politècnica de València

1 Sept 2004 → …


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • G Geography (General)
  • CC Archaeology
  • C Auxiliary sciences of history (General)


Dive into the research topics where Xavier Ribas is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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  • 2003-2023. 20 Years

    Ribas, X., 1 Feb 2023

    Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition

  • El Futuro De Chile En Las Fotografias Del Salitre

    Translated title of the contribution: The Future Of Chile In The Nitrate PhotographsRibas, X., 13 Feb 2023, Restituciones: La Fotografia En Deuda Cn Su Pasado. Guerra, C. (ed.). Barcelona, p. 173-201 28 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

  • Paisaje, Experiencia, Producción: Fotografía y paisajes productivos en Chile (2000-2020)

    Translated title of the contribution: Landscape, Experience, Production: Photography and Productive Landscapes in Chile (2000-2020)Ribas, X., 21 Apr 2023

    Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition

  • Reassemblage

    Ribas, X., 21 Oct 2023

    Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition

  • Flowers and Fruits

    Ribas, X., 26 Oct 2022

    Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition