Heritage and Peacebuilding

22 Sep 2017

Heritage is increasingly appearing at the center of discussions about peacebuilding. Yet heritage – whether understood as property or as a process of meaning making – has been undergoing a profound ontological transformation and the strategic environment of peacebuilding has been expanding to include more spheres of action. Marrying these two spheres is thus no easy task. In April 2015 UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, declared in a meeting of the UN Security Council: “Culture stands on the front-line of conflict – it should be at the front-line of peacebuilding.” (UNESCO 2015) and in June 2016 EU High Representative for External Relations, Federica Mogherini, commented that “Promoting heritage is not for archaeologists only – it is a peace imperative” (UNESCO 2016). What is the vision of peacebuilding that heritage is meant to be instrumental in effecting? What is the understanding of heritage that is being called into action?