On Places of Peace and the Aftermath of War

Surprisingly little research work has been carried out on ‘landscapes of peace’. Landscapes of martial memory – cemeteries, preserved battlefields, ornamental displays – have rarely been critiqued as zones that espouse values of peace. An Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project, Places of Peace, explores this missing dimension.

In our present period of ‘commemorative orthodoxy’ and conspicuous compassion – marked by ever frequent one and two minute silences, mass floral displays, and widespread roadside shrines – it may seem odd that such conventional objects as monuments arouse anxieties. But this ignores the complex debates about the way in which memorials encapsulate and perpetuate memory.

Such confusion is true too of the ambiguous role of peace and pacifism in the iconography of remembrance. This is particularly true where the designated sites are unofficial, temporary, or take the form of interventions within the spatial status quo. Unless the state has been the champion, such sites of peace are often construed as the work of dissenters, protesters, or the politically disruptive.

Essay and website

project publications

(2014) Back From The Front.


Paul Gough