Reading Socio-Political and Spatial Dynamics through Graffiti in Conflict-Affect Societies

Saturday 30 December 2023

Vogel, B. et al. Third World Quarterly 41, no. 12 (2020): 1248-68 

This article discusses the role of graffiti in conflict-affected areas, and how graffiti can be a lens to view peacebuilding efforts. Through four core aspects – spatial, temporal, political economic, and representative dimensions – the authors break down the role of graffiti in a society and how it can be seen as a way to understand what the citizens are thinking and feeling with regard to their current political climate. The article draws on material collected by different authors in various locations, such as Cyprus, Colombia, Iraq, Northern Ireland, and Timor-Leste. They make sure to highlight that the tradition of graffiti needs to be understood through the local context. 

Graffiti can be seen as a source of local knowledge, which is created by anybody and seen by everybody, making it incredibly influential. As it is an often-illegal act, it places additional importance on messages presented. The authors emphasised the role of graffiti by showing an image of graffiti on a UN buffer zone wall in Nicosia stating ‘Your wall cannot divide us’. Graffiti clearly highlights and shows the current thoughts of those in the immediate area. Furthermore, it allows marginalised and minority voices to be heard, as shown through another image underlining LGBTIQ communities, in Cyprus, represented through community. 

With regards to peace-building, the article makes sure to highlight how graffiti has much to offer in the study of both peace and conflict, as it directly spotlights the residents. Conflict-based graffiti can reflect past dynamics and conflicts, whereas peace-based graffiti shows potential for change to be made. I specifically recommend ‘Graffiti in Tehran’ as another library entry to explore.  

 Link: Reading socio-political and spatial dynamics through graffiti in conflict-affected societies  

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