Call for Papers

Heritage and Peace, edited by Lucas Lixinski and Yujie Zhu

‘Heritage must be at the frontline of peacebuilding,’ UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova declared in a UN Security Council meeting in April 2015. The world heritage mechanisms are regarded as ‘UNESCO’s vehicle for peace’ to create shared values beyond national policies, encourage intercultural dialogues, and promote cultural diversity (Di Giovine 2010, 8). The UNESCO Constitution, too, tells us that “since wars begin in the minds of men [sic], it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed” (Preamble).

However, scholars have questioned the efficacy of heritage and its acknowledgement and listing systems in building peace and reconciliation, especially in relation to difficult heritage sites and practices with traumatic pasts. Does heritage offer fertile ground for peacebuilding, or does it create and amplify conflicts for involved parties? Instead of falling into the binary position of viewing heritage as either positive or negative, this book seeks in the first place to examine the specific ways and conditions of making peace through heritage work. Heritage’s promise as a vehicle for peace can be undermined by a fixation on certain authorised practices, and may require more flexible engagement with heritage practices and their meanings, much like peace negotiations themselves require flexibility.

The book’s second purpose is to discuss what peace means, and it aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of peace in the heritage context. Moving beyond approaches of emphasising either the ideological or practical aspect of peace, this project sees peace as a process of negotiating the relationship between ideology, policy, and practice. Heritage, as a stage for narrating, mediating, and even transforming identities, can be a useful if under-used mechanism to understand what peace is, the conditions that underpin it, and to think of peace as more than a negative definition (“absence of war”) to a more resilient and entrenched set of practices, and an integral part of collective cultural identities. To the extent heritage helps shape these identities, it is a key element to thinking about the definitional possibilities and limits of peace.

This book explores two possible pathways of heritage to facilitating the peace-making process. The first pathway concerns the relationship-building practices related to past events, which involve various issues such as recognition and acknowledgement, reparation and remediation, negotiation, and reconciliation. Each goal targets various forms of techniques of heritage work. Efforts towards the latter goals require more work in relationship building and value creation.

The second pathway centres on scale (Lahdesmaki, Thomas and Zhu 2019). While much discussion on heritage policies focuses on UNESCO and international mechanisms, heritage practices often happen on the local or trans-local level and are often under-scrutinized in favour of more broadly authorised and more visible narratives, which often downplay the role of heritage in relation to peace to favour a definition of peace as the absence of conflict, rather than a resolution of conflict (Zhu and Logan 2022).

These ideas animate the present call for papers. We intend to assemble a set of contributors for an edited volume, ideally with the Routledge series Key Issues in Cultural Heritage, edited by Gönül Bozoğluon and Laurajane Smith.

We will select abstracts with consideration for geographical diversity of the contributions, engagement with the overarching framework, and we encourage submissions from early career academics, heritage professionals, and those from the Global South. We encourage contributors to focus on examples under-explored in the literature from a heritage standpoint, and particularly welcome contributors to consider how case studies can address and contribute to international debates.

Key Questions:

These are some of the questions to which we invite prospective contributors to respond in their abstracts, using case studies as platforms to discuss these issues:

  • How does the language of peace and peace building intersect with the vocabulary of heritage studies and management? What do these intersections (or lack thereof) tell us about the possibilities of heritage as a mechanism for peace?
  • What roles do heritage and its associated practices such as nomination, safeguarding, recognition, and repatriation have in peace building?
  • What principles and pathways might be adopted by law- and policy-makers seeking to use heritage to achieve peace building, especially in places engaged in local, regional, and international conflicts?
  • How can local and trans-local heritage practices facilitate national and international policies for reconciliation and peacebuilding?
  • What heritage management approaches and mechanisms might foster dialogue and mutual understanding specifically aimed at peace goals?
  • What political and social conditions help facilitate dialogue and mutual understanding between communities and between nation states for a more peaceful future?

Format and Timeline

  • Abstracts: abstracts of up to 400 words are due on May 15th, 2022, to and (please also include a biography of no more than 200 words, as well as current affiliation)
  • Notification of editorial decision by June 1st, 2022.
  • First Draft: Chapters will be submitted to the editors before the end of 2022.
  • Editorial Review and Feedback: All chapters will be reviewed by the editors and comments will be returned to the authors by the end of Feb 2023.
  • Second Draft: All chapters will be resubmitted to the editors by end of April 2023.
  • Submission to Publisher: Full manuscript to be submitted to publisher by end of June 2023.

Chapter Word Count:  not more than 6000 words.


Di Giovine, M. A. (2010). World Heritage Tourism: UNESCO’s Vehicle for Peace?. Anthropology News, 51(8), 8-9.

Lahdesmaki, T and Zhu. Eds. (2019). Politics of Scale: New Directions in Critical Heritage Studies. Oxford: Berghahn Books

Zhu and Logan. (2022). Heritage Interpretation, Conflict and Reconciliation in East Asia (special issue, vol 12). Journal of Cultural Heritage Management