Making peace visible: Colors in visual peace research

Juha Vuori*, Xavier Guillaume, Rune Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    176 Downloads (Pure)


    Peace is not an absence, but rather a visibly identifiable set of norms. This visualization can take place through internationally recognized signs such as the white flag and the blue helmet. These representations of norms are united in their ability to be distinguished from similar objects or signs through their use of colors. The identificatory use of color avoids confusion between parties embroiled in a conflict, making an organization or envoy stand out and creat- ing the expectation that they are encompassed by the specific norms of war- fare, which these colors make visible. Through establishing such “dumb signs” of peace, as Grotius put it, the colors of peace have, we argue, played a notable part in establishing customary international law. The aim of our con- tribution is to offer an illustrative chromatological analysis of how peace and its norms are made visible through objects and symbols which are not con- nected with peace beyond their coloring (e.g., emblems, flags, helmets, or war- zone vehicles). We show how certain colors, in their situated use, come to both symbolize and enact peace in terms of international politics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-77
    Number of pages23
    JournalPeace & Change
    Issue number1
    Early online date29-Dec-2019
    Publication statusPublished - Jan-2020

    Cite this