International Handbook on ‘Tourism and Peace,’


II. What are peace monuments and museums?



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II. What are peace monuments and museums?

There are several answers to this question.

The first answer is easy -- most any monument or museum named for "peace." But this answer is deceptive. "Peace" is a concept and ideal recognized by many different cultures, and the word "peace" has been used for many different meanings. What Ronald Dworkin said about "religion" applied equally well to "peace:" "[It is] an interpretive concept. That is, people who use the concept do not agree about precisely what it means: When they use it they are taking a stand about what it should mean." Does the tranquil Japanese "Peace Garden" at UNESCO headquarters in Paris have the same meaning as the aggressive "Goddess of Peace" (who is breaking a sword and stomping on the head of a soldier) in Karlstad, Sweden?

Even though the aspiration for "peace" may be universal, peace tourists soon learn to encounter wide variation in the many meanings and interpretations of the word "peace." And this accounts for some of the fascination of peace tourism.

The second answer is to include monuments and museums which represent the same values as "peace" but, for one reason or another, do not happen to include "peace" in their names. In 1913, the "Peace Palace" was dedi-cated in The Hague to be home of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and, in 1952, United Nations head-quarters opened in New York City without being named for "peace" but is certainly no less a peace place than the palace in The Hague. In Hiroshima, many monuments and museums related to nuclear destruction in 1945 are named for "peace" (heiwa), but in Europe, the many monuments and museums related to the Holocaust are not specifically named for "peace" but represent "peace" in the very same way as "peace" monuments in Japan.

The third answer is to consider some of the various meanings of the word "peace," the most obvious being the absence of war. Many peace monuments have been constructed to celebrate the cessation of hostilities and the promise of prosperity and progress after war. The phrase "peace museum" traditionally connotes an "anti-war" museum which exhibits the evils of war and the benefits of "non-war."

But modern scholarship has tended to define "peace" ever more broadly. As noted by Professor Ikuro Anzai (founder of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace at Ritsumeikan University in Japan), "peace" is no longer defined as the "absence of war" but as the "absence of violence," and violence in this context is understood as "causes to prevent people from making full use of their ability."

"Peace monuments" represent this expanded definition in two different ways. Some peace monuments decry not only war but genocide, colonialism, racism, or any of the many other evils which prevent the attainment of human potential. To simplify, we might say that these monuments emphasize negative themes of peace. They deplore the tragedies of the past, warn about the causes of the tragedies, and project the powerful message of "never again." The other kind of peace monument celebrates the positive themes of peace -- human rights, reconciliation, the acts of individual peacemakers (or peace heroes), and so forth.

The following table lists 43 examples of each of the two kinds of peace monuments. The two lists are long but incomplete. They reflect Johan Galtung's 1964 definitions of negative peace ("absence of violence, absence of war") and positive peace ("the integration of human society").





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