The Cultural Heritage of Conflict

Violence leaves a tangible and intangible legacy and societies emerging from war and conflict have to deal with a difficult heritage. The sites of conflict are tangibly present in the post-conflict realm: scars on buildings from grenades and bullets, remnants of dividing walls and crossings.

Things such as guns and bones from killing fields or everyday objects of living through war are often displayed in museums. The materiality of memory is also present through photographs, films and websites. In addition, cultural heritage sites after conflict also include what is not marked, e.g. atrocity sites such as massgraves or former rape camps that do not display any acknowledgement of the past crimes.

The project investigates what role such difficult cultural heritage of conflict plays in transitions to peace in several post-war contexts. It explores and theorizes the links between tangible cultural heritage of material sites and things and intangible cultural heritage that is produced through memory narratives and events.

Our focus is on the actual sites and artefacts that conflict in itself has produced, which we read in conjunction with the wider issues of how these sites are used and interpreted in the domains of intangible heritage.

The project contributes to the literature on cultural heritage by closing the gap between tangible and intangible, historical and contemporary cultural heritage that prevails in conceptual and empirical analyses. Further, these insights, coupled with an engagement with theories of spatiality and new materialism, build a bridge between cultural studies and peace & conflict research.

Project duration: 2017-2019.
Funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR), 4, 800 000 SEK.

Project members
Johanna Mannergren Selimovic
, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (project leader)
Annika Björkdahl, Lund University
Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Marburg University
Stefanie Kappler, Durham University
Associated researcher: Timothy Williams, Marburg University


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