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 


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© Carmel Borg and Michael Grech 2014

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  • Peter Van Den Dungen

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