Theatre, Facilitation, and Nation Formation in the Balkans by S. Kuftinec

By S. Kuftinec

How may theatre interfere in violent inter-ethnic conflicts? This e-book addresses this question via specific case stories within the Balkans and the Middle East, exhibiting how theatrical facilitations version ways in which ethnic oppositions can movement in the direction of moral relationships.

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Sample text

In an introduction to Conflict Resolution: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Kevin Avruch adds that rational discourse models of conflict management, at least in the United States, rely on a white middle-class emphasis on reason rather than affect. In most resolution models, he explains, emotions are either absent (as in mathematical game theory and economic theories of bargaining), or something one must ‘get past’ (1991: 4–6). Those working in intercultural encounters rather than international relations favor the idea of conflict transformation, a more holistic model, according to John Lederach, than conflict ‘management’ or ‘resolution’ (1995: 18).

In 1991 Joseph Scimecca claimed that the field of conflict mediation lacked a theoretical base. That is, though numerous explanations of conflict existed, there were fewer explicit theories about its mediation. So according to Scimecca, ‘the field is left with a number of processes that are dependent upon the idiosyncratic expertise of the individual practitioners’ (1991: 34). While my experiences with international conflict mediation suggest that Scimecca’s analysis still holds true in some cases, a number of conflict mediation theories now exist, most rooted in rival, but complementary social psychological approaches.

We developed a long-term partnership based on my status as a Croatian-American and his relationships with youth at the center, creating theatre and installations grounded in storytelling, allegory, and physical metaphor, based on themes suggested by the youth participants. These themes often emerged from long conversations over coffee and cigarettes rather than through any kind of formalized process. Through these conversations and long-term relationships, we were striving to develop an ethics of what Dwight Conquergood calls ‘dialogic performance’, a mode of ethical engagement that struggles to bring together different voices so that they can ‘question, debate, and challenge one another’ (1982: 9).

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