Peacebuilding through the Visual Arts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter Mitchell explores the ambiguities of building peace through the visual arts. He observes that ‘war and visual arts’ has a far-larger existing literature than the scholarship about representing peace visually, an observation that holds true for the arts more broadly. Discussing a number of well-known pieces of art by the likes of Paul Nash and Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz and Pablo Picasso, as well as less well-known work, Mitchell analyses the ways in which artists can bear witness to the costs of violent conflict and also, through their creations, extend the moral imagination, and thereby contribute to peacebuilding. As Mitchell suggests, no picture can wish away war, but it can raise questions about the wisdom and effects of conflict, alongside depicting the long and often difficult journey towards a sustainable peace. This is complemented by a consideration of how art can be used to express powerful emotions such as grief and anger, as well as develop imaginaries of peace. Through this chapter Mitchell argues that the visual arts can both represent and contribute to building peace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeacebuilding and the Arts
EditorsJolyon Mitchell, Giselle Vincett, Theodora Hawksley, Hal Culbertson
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783030178758
ISBN (Print)9783030178741, 9783030178772
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameRethinking Peace and Conflict Studies


  • visual arts
  • artists
  • peacebuilding
  • war
  • bear witness


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  • Introduction

    Hawksley, T. & Mitchell, J., 28 Nov 2019, Peacebuilding and the Arts. Mitchell, J., Vincett, G., Hawksley, T. & Culbertson, H. (eds.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 1-31 (Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

  • Peacebuilding and the Arts

    Mitchell, J. (ed.), Vincett, G. (ed.), Hawksley, T. (ed.) & Culbertson, H. (ed.), 28 Nov 2019, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 508 p. (Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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