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Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day

Series by the Cluster of Excellence on international conference and major exhibition

At the public conference “PEACE. Theories, Images and Strategies from Antiquity to the Present Day” of the Cluster of Excellence, which will be held from 22 to 25 May 2018 in Münster, internationally renowned researchers will address the question in 21 lectures of why people throughout the ages wanted peace, but never succeeded in securing it in the long term. On the basis of many historical examples of European history, they address strategies, behavioural patterns and processes with which people from antiquity to the present day have tried to establish and maintain peace. The researchers focus on how many of the images, rituals and strategies have remained valid over time. At the same time, they show changes typical of their time and their causes. All lectures will be held in the auditorium of LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur at Domplatz 10 in Münster.

Over the next few weeks, the Cluster of Excellence will present key topics of the conference on the Internet and in the media. The conference is part of the exhibition “Frieden. Von der Antike bis heute” (Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day), which will present the topics in a variety of exhibits at five locations in the city of the Peace of Westphalia from 28 April to 2 September 2018. The idea and basic concept of the exhibition project are the result of the many years of research at the Cluster of Excellence on the topic of peace. (asc/vvm)

Researchers on the themes of the conference and exhibition

© LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Hanna Neander, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018

“Love Displaces Violence”

According to researchers, artists from ancient times to the present day have kept using the same symbols and metaphors to depict peace. “Dove or rainbow, kiss or embrace, peace banquet, horrors of war or the victory of love over violence – artistic depictions of peace have a long history," says art historian Prof. Dr. Eva-Bettina Krems from the University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”.

© Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Foto: I. Desnica

“Peace has only recently become the prime objective of politics”

According to historians, the political goal of peace has never been as important as it is today. “For example, those who considered peace to be the most important political goal in 1913 belonged to a minority,” says historian Prof. Dr Hans-Ulrich Thamer of the University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence. “Today, on the other hand, peace is the number one expectation that the population has on politics.” In Europe, the peace movement only gained weight after the atrocities of the Second World War. The positive view of peace only became the majority opinion with the peace movement of the 1980s.

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Foto: Olaf M. Teßmer

What the oldest peace treaty in the world teaches us

According to archaeologists, the world’s oldest peace treaty disproves the widespread notion that in antiquity, peace was not brought about by negotiations, but always by humiliating those who had lost. “More than 3,200 years ago, Egyptians and Hittites ensured each other mutual support in the treaty; neither of them triumphed. This must have been preceded by much negotiating, as is evidenced by extensive correspondence between the rulers”, says Dr Helge Nieswandt of the University of Münster’s Archaeological Museum. “Although the ‘victorious peace’ dominates over the ‘peace of reconciliation’ in peace images of antiquity, our research shows that the latter also existed.”

© Tomasz Samek/Stadtmuseum Münster

“Peace agreements have always only succeeded with genuine trust”

Gifts, peace banquets and reconciliation rituals: according to historians, peace agreements have historically been reached if, above all, specific trust could be established between opponents. “Confidence-building measures are not a patent remedy, but increase the probability of peace, according to studies covering different epochs,” says medieval historian Prof. Dr Gerd Althoff. Throughout time, people have longed for peace and developed strategies. “As great as the longing was, mankind has hardly made any lasting progress – such as peace over centuries. Across epochs, however, there are surprisingly similar principles and practices that have been more successful than others in curbing the potential for human aggression.”

© Mentis Verlag

Philosopher Warns Against “Drifting into State Terrorism”

State warfare must not drift into state terrorism, says philosopher Michael Quante. He calls for a social debate on the ethically and legally justifiable options of warfare and insists on honesty in the choice of words when it comes to war and peace.

Prof. Dr Michael Quante on ethical questions about war and peace

© imslp.org

“Da pacem, Domine”

A conference of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” addresses peace in religious music. “Music has always been a central medium of the artistic engagement with the subject of ‘peace’,” explains musicologist Dr Dominik Höink, who invites to the conference “Religiöse Friedensmusik von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart” (Religious Peace Music from Antiquity to the Present Day) from 28 to 30 June. Whether as a sung prayer for peace as part of religious ceremonies or as part of celebrations after a peace agreement – there are countless examples from the most diverse cultural contexts and times that could be given.

© Foto: LWL

Exhibition “Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day” at five locations in Münster

Under the title “Frieden. Von der Antike bis heute” (Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day), an extraordinary exhibition, in which scientists of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” are significantly involved, can be seen at five locations in Münster from 28 April to 2 September 2018. By means of notable exhibits from international collections, the exhibition illuminates people’s struggle for peace from antiquity to the present day. One key question is why people have always wanted peace but never succeeded in securing it in the long term.