Visualising Peace

The Visualising War project studies narratives of conflict and the impact which they have on how people understand, imagine and conduct war. Increasingly, our work has been looking at the ways in which people narrate war’s ‘aftermath’, the ‘long shadow of war’, conflict transformation, and conflict resolution. In January 2022 Alice König set up a ‘Vertically Integrated Project‘ (VIP), involving undergraduate and postgraduate students from a range of Humanities and Social Science disciplines, to examine habits of representing and visualising peace – and how those habits might shape our mindsets and behaviours, both now and in the future. 

Key research questions include:

  • What recurring stories do individuals and communities tell about peace or conflict resolution in art, text, film, photography, news reports, museums, music etc? Do some media lend themselves to particular habits of narrating/visualising peace? And what impact do those media and those ‘peace narratives’ have?
  • What makes any given narrative (in art, text, music etc) identifiable as a ‘peace story’? Why don’t we have established traditions of ‘peace photography’ or ‘peace films’ as counterparts to long-established traditions of ‘war photography’ and ‘war films’? What happens if we re-interpret or re-frame well-known narratives of war (such as Homer’s Iliad) as narratives that can also help us visualise peace or conflict transformation? And are narratives of peace inevitably constructed in relation to narratives of conflict?
  • What assumptions underpin the study of peace in different disciplines and sectors? What attention do different academic disciplines and peace-building organisations pay to narratives of peace/conflict resolution? And what could be gained from more interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration?
  • What role can narratives of peace play in peace-building itself? 

The students working on the Visualising Peace VIP are drawing inspiration from a very wide range of scholarship and also from NGOs and other bodies involved in conflict resolution and sustainable peace-building. In turn, we hope that our research will make valuable contributions to the teaching of peace in schools, to the academic study of peace in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and to the ways in which narratives of peace are understood, deployed and applied in the real world.

You can access some of the project’s outputs here. Among other things, we have recently launched a virtual Museum of Peace, which showcases lots of different ways of visualising peace.