Soft Power and Dark Heritage: Multiple Potentialities

David Clarke, Anna Cento Bull, Marianna Deganutti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (SciVal)
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While positively connoted tangible cultural heritage is widely recognized as an asset to states in their exercise of soft power, the value of sites of ‘dark heritage’ in the context of soft power strategies has not yet been fully explored. This article offers a theoretical framework for the analysis of the multiple soft power potentialities inherent in the management and presentation of sites of past violence and atrocity, demonstrating how the value of these sites can be developed in terms of place branding, cultural diplomacy and state-level diplomacy. The relationship between dark heritage, soft power and the search for ‘ontological security’ is also explored, highlighting how difficult pasts can be mobilized in order to frame positive contemporary roles for states in the international system. Drawing on this theoretical framework, the article offers an analysis of the case of the Soča valley in Slovenia and the presentation of the site of the First World War battle of Kobarid in a dedicated museum. Through this case study, the article underlines the particular role of dark heritage for the national self-projection of a new and small state in the context of European integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-674
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • place branding
  • ontological security
  • Soft power
  • dark heritage
  • cultural diplomacy
  • memorial diplomacy


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