The Ph.D. study Wayfinding Peace: Museums in conflict zones explores the Community Peace Museums Heritage Foundation (CPMHF) in Kenya a collective of 15 rural community peace museums. In 1994, Sultan Somjee a Kenyan ethnographer founded the CPMHF. The goal was to strengthen the cultural foundations that commemorate memories of living in peace even at times of ethnic conflicts. What makes the CPMHF peace museums unique is that they focus on a grassroots approach to “recall collective memories of reconciliation during contemporary conflicts” (Somjee, 2014, p. 8). The museums utilize cultural heritage and historical knowledge as a resource for conflict resolution, social justice, and sustainable development. Conversely, other world peace museums focus on the memorialization of a historical event, such as sites of past wars, or highlight individuals related to social justice issues (Somjee, 2014).
This article offers museum and art educators, and scholars the opportunity to consider the ways the CMPHF utilize peace heritage traditions through the arts to reconcile conflict. The interdisciplinary approach of exploring history, anthropology, ethnography, art and international relations provides interesting perspectives and intersections on peacemaking approaches. The first section Community Peace Museums Heritage Foundation offers a brief historical background of the organization. The Research Study Design outlines the framework of the research. Then a discussion on Indigenous Relational Aesthetics through the lens of anthropology and ethnography scholars (Davis, 2009; May-bury Lewis, 1994; Somjee, 2018) provides insight into indigenous peacemaking traditions through cultural artistic practices. In comparison, Western Relational Aesthetics (Bourriaud, 2013) considers the different perspectives and ways relational aesthetics are viewed and how art can be employed in a Western context. Indigenous Peace Practices vs Liberal Peace provides an overview of the challenges of liberal peace ideals and the potential of employing indigenous peace heritage traditions as an alternative to address local issues, concerns, and perspectives. Afterward, three examples of CPMHF exhibitions and projects The Great Beaded Peace Tree (2008), Journeys of Peace (2014), Youth4Peace (2014-2015), Tubonge (2017-2018) illustrate the ways conflicting communities are brought together in peacemaking practices through indigenous relational aesthetics. The conclusion addresses the key lessons museum and art educators and scholars can learn from museums that utilize material culture to promote human rights through active participation in the arts.
Museum and art education; indigenous peacemaking; relational aesthetics
Copyright © 2018 Kimberly Baker
Baker, Kimberly A.
"Wayfinding Peace: Museums in Conflict Zones,"
Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education: Vol. 2018
, Article 2.