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Untangling Difficult Heritage: Arguing for Equal Linguistic Access for Stakeholders of Past International Conflicts

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Moxham, Oliver 


This paper is a manifesto for applying the theoretical argument for translational justice — equality through linguistic presence and accuracy — at difficult heritage sites for stakeholder language groups. Decolonizing museum and heritage spaces has dominated debates in the field of archaeology. Difficult heritage sites relating to conflict are no exception (Macdonald 2010, 2015). Transparent discourse between stakeholders is a prerequisite for reconciliation around the difficult past represented by heritage. Theories in translation and heritage studies around language identity support this, demonstrating how the presence of one’s own language creates a feeling of inclusion and consideration essential for reconciliation processes (Baker 2018; Giblin 2022; Inghilleri and Harding 2010). Developing on translation studies theories of “translational justice” (De Schutter 2017; González Núñez 2016; Meylaerts 2006) and the relationship between conflict and translation (Baker 2018), this paper argues for a best-practice translation policy at difficult heritage sites which prioritises facilitating mutual respect and dialogue between stakeholders of international traumatic histories.



Public Archaeology, Difficult Heritage, Cultural Heritage, Archaeology and Politics, Archaeological Theory

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Archaeology and the Publics

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