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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wayfinding peace : museums in conflict zones Baker, Kimberly Ann


The study Wayfinding Peace: Museums in Conflict Zones reconsiders the approaches peace museums have taken when promoting peace by drawing on the ways ethnographer Sultan Somjee and the Community Peace Museums Heritage Foundation (CPMHF) in Kenya utilize the African humanist philosophy of Utu in their museum practices in conflict zones. The CPMHF is a collective of 16 rural museums in conflict-prone areas. They often lack governmental support and resources and operate on minimal budgets. Through a series of fieldwork journeys, the research illuminates Somjee’s experiences of developing the community peace museums in unstable political and social situations. Overall, the dissertation highlights the 26-year history of the CPMHF using Indigenous peace heritage traditions to resolve contemporary conflict and build peaceful civil society relations. Moreover, the study suggests cultural heritages maintained in traditions of peacebuilding can contribute to bonding communities at large in several ways: 1) sustain children and youth's connection to their Indigenous culture by exploring their peace traditions through art education; 2) provide protection and conservation of biological heritage; 3) offer culturally specific approaches for reconciliation among conflicting minority and majority ethnic groups through agency. The study offers the cultural workers of peace museums an opportunity to learn alternative peace museum themes and approaches based on culture.

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