Performing Trauma on Post-Conflict Stages: The Representational Strategies of DAH Teatar

  • Kate Donoghue

Student thesis: Phd


Over the last thirty years, trauma, as a critical concept and sociopolitical paradigm, has become utterly central to contemporary questions of subjectivity, memory, and politics. Despite the reach and depth of trauma's influence in these areas, however, theatre and performance remain underserved as objects of critical analysis within trauma studies. Drawing on a range of ideas from within trauma studies and critical theory, as well as concepts and methods of inquiry from performance studies, this thesis examines trauma in the performance work of DAH Teatar, in terms of both its representational and relational aesthetics, as well as its performativity as a social and political force. Founded in Belgrade, Serbia on the eve of the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1999), DAH Teatar have been responding to and intervening in cultural memory around these events for three decades. Through a consideration of DAH's wartime and postwar performance work, this study argues that theatre and performance possess a unique arsenal of tools with which to harness the trauma concept, manipulate it, and push it in new directions. In order to articulate these ideas, the thesis considers a number of DAH Teatar performances that span the temporal range from 1992 to 2019. The first chapter offers the theoretical frameworks that have given rise to the performative trauma paradigm in which DAH's work intervenes. The remaining chapters engage a range of conceptual pillars that resonate throughout both trauma literature and performance theory. These are: relationality and inter-subjective encounter (Chapter 2), time and gesture (Chapter 3), embodiment (Chapter 4), capital (Chapter 5), and urban identity (Chapter 6). Through these analyses, this study argues, an alternative 'post-traumatic' politics emerges, one that invites us to rethink the role trauma plays in the construction of individual and collective identities.
Date of Award1 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJames Thompson (Supervisor) & Stephen Scott-Bottoms (Supervisor)


  • Devised theatre
  • Post-conflict
  • Eastern Europe
  • Performance Studies
  • DAH Teatar
  • Serbia
  • Trauma
  • Yugoslavia

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