Tangible things like artifacts, monuments, and sites are all forms of cultural heritage, but heritage is also a process through which people construct and use the past in the present. This means that far from being inert and passive, heritage is integrated into social and political dynamics—including those that produce violence. This essay series considers questions such as: Why and how is heritage a target of violence? What impacts does this have on society, and what happens afterward? How is heritage subject to—and how does it perpetuate—structural violence, such as that of colonialism and racism?

In this essay series, scholars from around the world consider these intersections of heritage and violence. The essays examine issues such as the relationship between heritage destruction and genocide, whether and how to reconstruct heritage after violence, violence as a selling point in the art market, and layers of violent history and ongoing erasure at historic sites. Studying heritage, as these essays demonstrate, can help us to look at violence and its many aftermaths in new lights.

This series has been curated by Annalisa Bolin, research associate at Understanding Violent Conflict program and postdoctoral fellow in the UNESCO Chair in Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, Sweden.