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Title:(Im)possibilities of building community and negotiating belonging in institutional theatre during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia: a comparative study of cases from Sarajevo, Zagreb, and Belgrade
Author(s):Sohaj, Mina
Director of Research:Robinson, Valleri
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robinson, Valleri
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Davis, Peter A.; Greenberg, Jessica; Bright, Latrelle
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This dissertation examines how and to what end institutional theatre participates in the process of building community and negotiating belonging from 1991 to 1995 during two major conflicts of the Yugoslav Succession Wars: the War in Croatia and the War in Bosnia. With a focus on institutional theatre as a public phenomenon, in a comparative study of nine cases from Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Zagreb, I aim to understand how notions of community and belonging are interpreted in each city and how mainstream cultural establishments negotiate, resist, or conform to the hegemonic political projects of belonging and community during the war years. Theatre is examined as a place for negotiating belonging in the city, particularly that of the urban educated middle class citizens, as well as a site of connection and exchange of urban experiences between Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Zagreb. The comparative study method, underpinned by performance, text, and material analysis of primary and secondary sources from Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo, affords a critical framework for examining socio-political distinctions and similarities that might lead to new insights about the relationship between theatre and war in these three places. I search for distinct approaches to building community and negotiating belonging in and around institutional theatre in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo and isolate the socio-cultural and political factors that produce conditions that enable such approaches. This is followed by an analysis of nine case studies organized in two chronological stages to encompass the first theatrical responses to the war, followed by examples from the later years of the conflict. A close examination of institutional theatre reveals within these organizations cohesive and complex processes of negotiating belonging and building community, and sheds light on more nuanced interpretations of these notions among the urban educated middle class citizens in Sarajevo, Zagreb, and Belgrade. By examining institutional theatre in Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Zagreb, we can learn more about the shared and not-so shared experiences of belonging and community during the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia. This study contributes to the body of knowledge about wartime culture in the former Yugoslav region, and represents an effort in the understanding and reconciliation of past traumatic experiences in the Balkans. More than twenty years after the war, the processes of reestablishing these connections is still ongoing; the future of the region depends on our understanding of the cultural links between these three urban centers.
Issue Date:2015-07-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Mina Sohaj
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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