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Whitman College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans


The current state of Kosovo-Serbian relations is one of frozen conflict; Serbia does not recognize Kosovo independence and relations between the two communities are relatively stagnant in spite of the ongoing EU mediated political dialogue in Brussels. Thus, this paper aims to re-imagine traditional processes of reconciliation and conflict transformation between the two entities by situating it within the cultural realm of society and viewing theater as a transformative practice. In doing this, I ask in what ways theater can effectively engage with and foster processes of reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia, while specifically analyzing two joint productions between Prishtina and Belgrade - Encyclopedia of the Living and Romeo and Juliet. While both productions incorporated Serbian and Albanian collaborators, the messages conveyed have different implications for revitalizing relations between the communities. Encyclopedia of the Living deals with questions of political accountability and ethnic tensions, and Romeo and Juliet offers a much more general message contrasting love and hatred between peoples. These productions premiered in alternative and institutional spaces respectively, but nonetheless engaged with audience members in a way that began to open up possibilities for questioning. Therefore, the creative space that both alternative and institutional theater provides not only allows individuals to come together and negotiate different narratives, but ultimately provides a way to approach reconciliation processes through a gentler and less institutional lens. Theater is here understood as a creative response in a post-conflict environment, and the paper explores the ways in which it can develop relationships, stage encounters, and create spaces for acknowledgment.


Eastern European Studies | Political Science | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Theatre and Performance Studies


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