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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 4, 2013

Transitional Justice and Civil Societies after Dictatorial Regimes

Olivera Simić
Pages 65-86

“The Day After”: Ex-Combatants Perform Live in Belgrade Theatre

This paper addresses the organised civil society efforts to bring excombatants into the public sphere in Serbia, and investigates the potential for constructive use of ex-combatants’ war experiences in theatre. By staging the theatre performance Tanatos, the Group “Hajde da...” (the Group) from Belgrade aims to challenge negative views of this category of the Serbian population. So far, ex-combatants have been largely ignored, and as such, their capacities for contributing to transitional justice processes in the Serbian community have been neglected. Not only does the Tanatos bring four ex-combatants onto the stage to share their combat-related experiences with an audience, but it also gives the audience an opportunity to meet the ex-combatants after the performance in an open ‘question and answer’ session. As a qualitative case study, the paper draws from multiple sources: direct observation of the theatre performance in Belgrade in 2011, documentary research and fieldwork in Serbia undertaken during the summer of 2013, analysis of internal documents produced within the Group, and an interview with the dramaturge of the performance. The paper concludes that through Tanatos, the Group has opened public space for a dialogue about the recent past that acknowledges ex-combatants as an important factor in transitional justice processes in the region.

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