Reading List

A collection of key readings in the field of history, heritage and memory relevant to the topic of Contested Histories. If you have suggestions or believe some essential readings are missing, please contact us at

Conversations about Contested-Pasts Historicizing Historical Consciousness in a Globalizing World

By Maria Grever

In several post-colonial countries, the war on monuments and cultural traditions has been given impetus by the Black-Lives Matter movement and is further fuelled by racist hate messages on social media. Teachers grapple with heated debates on these issues in their multicultural classes. They have a tremendously difficult task in dealing with students’ emotions about contested pasts. Sometimes teachers are also confronted with violence outside the classroom. That happened to French history teacher Samuel Paty in 2020, when he was… Read More

Teaching History to Face the World Today

Socially-conscious approaches, activity proposals and historical thinking competencies

By Cosme J. Gómez Carrasco, José Monteagudo Fernández & Juan Ramón Moreno Vera

This book develops the challenges that history teaching must face as a curricular subject at the beginning of the 21st century. These challenges are related, both to new epistemological approaches in history education, and also to the development of new activities, active-learning methodologies, and historical thinking competencies. In terms of new approaches, this book suggests activities regarding invisible topics such as social and economic impacts in history, inequalities, church and science, gender equality, power and violence, prosecuted by justice, peasantry… Read More

Difficult Heritage and Immersive Experiences

Edited By Agiatis Benardou, Anna Maria Droumpouki

By Paula December 9, 2022

Difficult Heritage and Immersive Experiences examines the benefits involved in designing and employing immersive technologies to reconstruct difficult pasts at heritage sites around the world. Presenting interdisciplinary case studies of heritage sites and museums from across a range of different contexts, the volume analyzes the ways in which various types of immersive technologies can help visitors to contextualize and negotiate difficult or sensitive heritage and traumatic pasts. Demonstrating that some of the most creative applications of immersive experiences appear in… Read More

Tracing the Politics of Aesthetics

From Imposing, via Counter to Affirmative Memorials to Violence

By Susanne Buckley-Zistel 2021

The article focuses on how memory at a memorial (supposedly) takes place through the aesthetic strategies put to work by the memorial (or rather its architects, creators, artists, etc.) Instead of exploring struggles over memory, it zooms in on the style and form of memorials and how these (intend to) affect visitors. Read More

Gender, Transnational Justice and Memorial Arts

Global Perspectives on Commemoration and Mobilisation

By Jelke Boesten & Helen Scanlon 2021

This book examines the role of post-conflict memorial arts in bringing about gender justice in transitional societies. The book brings together research from scholars around the world who are interested in the gendered dimensions of memory-making in transitional societies. Aimed at those interested in the fields of transitional justice, memory studies, post-conflict peacebuilding, human rights and gender studies… Read More

Rethinking Africa

Indigenous Women Re-Interpret South Africa's Pasts

By Bernadette Muthien & June Bam (Eds.) 2021

This book critically opens new pathways for de-colonial scholarship and the reclamation of indigenous self-definition by women scholars. Indigenous peoples around the world are often socially and gender egalitarian, matricentric, matrifocal, matrilineal, less violent, beyond heteronormative, ecologically sensitive, and with feminine or two-gender deities or spirits, and more. Bernedette Muthien has contributed to several publications over the years, while Bam has made numerous key contributions in the field of rethinking and rewriting the African past more generally. In this book,… Read More

Contested Histories in Public Spaces

Principles, Processes, Best Practices

By Timothy W. Ryback, Mark S. Ellis & Benjamin Glahn (Eds.) February 2021

The ten case studies in this volume were selected with a twofold purpose: first, to examine the dynamics around specific contestations around the world in recent, real-world situations to demonstrate that these contestations are a global phenomenon; and second, to identify ‘best practices’ that can help decision-makers faced with similar situations address them in an effective and responsible manner. While every contestation will have its own unique constellation of social, political, legal and cultural dynamics, it is hoped that these… Read More

Generating Tension

Memorial of Sexual Slavery

By Mary Park 2020

The writer explores how war crimes, such as sexual slavery and rape, as delicate and difficult history, are present in today’s dialogue between countries. The focus is on sexual violence perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial Army in South Korea, and how this affects the relationship between these countries to this day. Master Thesis at Rhode Island School of Design. Read More

Should Slavery’s Statues be Removed?

On Transitional Justice and Contested Heritage

By Joanna Burch-Brown 2020

What should we do with statues and place-names memorializing people who committed human-rights abuses linked to slavery and postslavery racism? In this article, I draw on UN principles of transitional justice to address this question. I propose that a successful approach should meet principles of transitional justice recognized by the United Nations, including affirming rights to justice, truth, reparations, and guarantees of nonrecurrence of human rights violations. I discuss four strategies for handling contested heritage, examining strengths and weaknesses of… Read More

Rhodes Must Fall

The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire

By Brian Kwoba, Roseanne Chantiluke & Athinangamso Nkopo 2018

Written by key members of the movement in Oxford, Rhodes Must Fall is the story of that campaign. Showing the crucial importance of both intersectionality and solidarity with sister movements in South Africa and beyond, this book shows what it means to boldly challenge the racism rooted deeply at the very heart of empire. Read More

Whose History Counts

Decolonising African Pre-Colonial Historiography

By June Bam, Lungisile Ntsebeza & Allan Zinn (Eds.) 2018

Originally planned as a fact-based book on the pre-colonial history of the Eastern Cape in the true tradition of history, this ground-breaking book focuses on epistemological and foundational questions about the writing of history and whose history counts. Whose History Counts challenges the very concept of “pre-colonial” and explores methodologies on researching and writing history. The reason for this dramatic change of focus is attributed in the introduction of the book to the student-led rebellion that erupted following the #RhodesMustFall… Read More

Law and Memory

Towards Legal Governance of History

By Uladzislau Belavusau & Aleksandra Gliszczyńska (Eds.) 2017

Legal governance of memory has played a central role in establishing hegemony of monumental history, and has forged national identities and integration processes in Europe and beyond. In this book, a range of contributors explore both the nature and role of legal engagement into historical memory in selected national law, European and international law. They also reflect on potential conflicts between legal governance, political pluralism, and fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. In recent years, there have been numerous… Read More