Conflict Museums, Nostalgia, and Dreaming of Never Again

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Sites that mark atrocity span the globe including Villa Grimaldi in Chile, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum in eastern China, and Robben Island in South Africa. Generally such sites seek to have some form of social and individual impact. Typically they seek to educate the next generation and prevent future forms of atrocity by revealing the past. It is contended that an overly emotional focus on the narratives of victims at such sites can limit understanding of the dynamics that cause violence. The article also explores whether there is a nostalgic element to conflict museums. Although it seems counterintuitive that nostalgia would have any place in thinking back on periods of extreme violence, it is argued that nostalgia is present in a number of ways. How this plays out in postapartheid South Africa is specifically explored. The article concludes by highlighting the dangers in South Africa of what can be termed a regenerative nostalgia for the “struggle” against apartheid and the perceived unifying peace process that followed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-281
JournalPeace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2012


  • museums
  • conflict
  • transitional justice
  • nostalgia


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