How Theaters Remember: Cultures of Memory in Institutionalized Systems

  • Milena Dragićević Šešić University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Milena Stefanović University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia


The aim of this study is to explore organizational policies and strategies regarding the institutional memory of Belgrade’s repertoire theaters. The concept of institutional (organizational) memory has not been developed within the culture of memory theory. The role of theater in the culture of memory has been researched mostly through studies of its repertoire, corresponding to how theaters deal with issues of glory, guilt, or shame. This study explores how theaters rethink their own past and organizational culture, how they use their capacity for re-imagining themselves, for clarifying their role and function in different historical moments. The objective of this research is to identify the main institutional policies and types of strategies used for preserving institutional memory through key narratives of remembering, and key methods of inter-generational transfer. The sample comprises of four Belgrade-based public repertoire theaters: the Yugoslav Dramatic Theater (JDP), the Belgrade Dramatic Theater (BDP), Atelje 212, and Bitef Theater. Specific attention is given to the means of transmission, of individual (episodic) memories into the collective consciousness, influencing organizational cultures and shaping a theater’s identity (semantic memory). Research has shown that there are important differences in active policies of preserving institutional memory among Belgrade’s theaters. Different organizational and programming strategies were implemented in order to safeguard institutional identity and memory, particularly in theaters with a permanent ensemble. The major difference is between theaters whose culture of memory might be called “non-existent” (Bitef), or “in storage” (BDP), and those succeeding in creating a functional memory (JDP, Atelje 212).


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How to Cite
DRAGIĆEVIĆ ŠEŠIĆ, Milena; STEFANOVIĆ, Milena. How Theaters Remember: Cultures of Memory in Institutionalized Systems. Култура/Culture, [S.l.], n. 4, p. 11-30, nov. 2014. ISSN 1857-7725. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 sep. 2020.
English Articles


institutional memory, organizational culture, memory policies, memory representations, Belgrade, theater, identity