The History of World Peace in 100 Objects: Visualizing Peace in a Peace Museum

  • Peter Van Den Dungen
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Postcolonial Studies in Education book series (PCSE)


In 2010, Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, presented “a history of the world in 100 objects,” the latter having been carefully chosen from the Museum’s vast collection. His talks on BBC Radio, as well as the accompanying publication1 were widely praised as being among the cultural highlights of the year. It is interesting to note that whereas “war,” “weapons,” and “armor” all appear in the index of his substantial book, “peace” does not—although there is an entry “Pax Mongolica.” Considering the artifacts themselves, only a few have a direct bearing on peace such as the inscription concerning Emperor Ashoka, and the “throne of weapons,” a chair made of decommissioned weapons from the war in Mozambique. The relative absence of “peace” and “nonviolence” as compared to “war” and “violence” in MacGregor’s account of world history is representative of the Western representation and interpretation of history, culture, and society. History textbooks are dominated by narratives of war; the heroic and glorious are identified with the warrior who is celebrated in public statues. War and military museums are prominent national institutions in many countries. The themes of peace, nonviolence, and antiwar, on the other hand, are conspicuous by their absence—not least in museums (widely regarded as guardians of high culture and which fulfill a major role in public education). The world still awaits the opening of the first national peace museum.


Conscientious Objection History Textbook Nobel Peace Prize Peace Movement Peace Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    MacGregor, N. (2011). A History of the World in 100 Objects (London: Allen Lane/Penguin Books).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Soderlund, J. R. (ed.) (1983). William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania 1680–1684. A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cook Myers, A. (ed.) (1970). William Penn’s Own Account of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians. Revised Edition (Wallingford, PA: Middle Atlantic Press).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Taylor, E. E. (1936). Peace Pacts Honoured: Two Examples from History (London: Friends’ Book Centre), p.6.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See, for instance, Merrell, J. H. (1999). Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (New York: W.W. Norton).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Most recently, it has been reprinted in Weitsch, M. (ed.) (2010). “Be Patterns, Be Examples”. Reflecting on 350 years of working for peace in Europe (Brussels: The Quaker Council for European Affairs), pp.4–6.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brock, P. (1990). The Quaker Peace Testimony 1660 to 1914 (York, England: Sessions Book Trust).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Buch, E. (2003). Beethoven’s Ninth: A Political History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), p.123.Google Scholar
  9. The politicization of this as well as other compositions by the same composer is illustrated in Dennis, D. B. (1996). Beethoven in German Politics, 1870–1989 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    The full text in English is available in Cooper, S. E. (ed.) (1972). Five Views on European Peace (New York: Garland); see also her introduction, pp.14–17.Google Scholar
  11. A shortened version is in Chatfield, C. and Ilukhina, R. (eds.) (1994). Peace/Mir. An Anthology of Historic Alternatives to War (Syracuse, N Y: Syracuse University Press), pp.100–102.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cooper, S. E. (1991). Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press), p.24.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ruyssen, T. (1961). Les Sources doctrinales de l’Internationalisme vol. 3, (Paris : Presses Universitaires de France), p.551.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Heffermehl, F. S. (2010). The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Van den Dungen, P. (2000). “The Price of Peace: Rare Books of Peace.” In Antiquarian Book Monthly, 27, pp.10–17.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Van den Dungen, P. (2010). “Towards a Bertha von Suttner Peace Museum in Vienna (1914–2014).” In Johann G. Lughofer (ed.), Im Prisma: Bertha von Suttner. “Die Waffen nieder!” (Wien-St. Wolfgang: Edition Art Science), pp.211–237.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    It is reprinted, and extensively discussed, in Sohlman, R. (1983). The Legacy of Alfred Nobel: The Story behind the Nobel Prizes (London: The Bodley Head), pp.136–139.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Van den Dungen, P. (2000). The Nobel Peace Prize and the Global Proliferation of Peace Prizes in the 20th Century. vol. 1, no. 6 (Oslo: The Norwegian Nobel Institute Series), available at: Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nathan, Otto and Norden, Heinz (1960). Einstein on Peace (New York: Simon and Schuster).Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    Sydney Strong (1931), quoted in Peace Militant (New York City: New History Foundation), p.29.Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Barry Miles (2008). Peace. 50 Years of Protest 1958–2008 (London: Collins & Brown).Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    Rigby, A. (1997). “Symbols of Peace: The Commonweal Collection.” In Carol Rank (ed.), City of Peace: Bradford’s Story (Bradford: Bradford Libraries), pp.151–159.Google Scholar
  23. 28.
    Urquhart, B. (1987). A Life in Peace and War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), p.133.Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    Abrams, I. (ed.) (1997). Nobel Lectures Peace, 1981–1990 (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing), p.221.Google Scholar
  25. 31.
    An excellent recent global history of the peace idea, going beyond the modern European era, is Gittings, J. (2012). The Glorious Art of Peace (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Carmel Borg and Michael Grech 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Van Den Dungen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations