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Through the Window
Kinship and Elopement in Bosnia-Herzegovina


Keith Doubt

Keith Doubt is Professor of Sociology at Wittenberg University, Ohio

Listen to the interview with the author

This book is not about war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, evil, or the killing of a society. It is about a cultural heritage, something vital to a society as a society, something that was not killed in the previous war, something that is resilient.

Through the Window brings an original perspective to folklore of Bosnians at a certain period of time and the differences and similarities of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It examines the transethnic character of cultural heritage, against divisions that dominate their tragic recent past. The monograph focuses in particular on customs shared by different ethnic groups, specifically elopement, and affinal visitation. The elopement is a transformative rite of passage where an unmarried girl becomes a married woman. The affinal visitation, which follows, is a confirmatory ceremony where ritualized customs between families establish in-lawships These customs reflect a transethnic heritage shared by people in Bosnia as a national group, including Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.

Table of Contents Preface Acknowledgements
Chapter 1 The Study of Elopement
Chapter 2 The Liminality of Elopement
Chapter 3 An Extraordinary Elopement
Chapter 4 Habitus in Bosnia
Chapter 5 Deciding in a Blink
Chapter 6 The Secret and Elopement
Chapter 7 Elopement and Ego-Identity
Chapter 8 The Risk of Foreclosure in the Arranged Marriage
Chapter 9 Family Folklore and Elopement
Chapter 10 Affinal Relations after Elopement
Chapter 11 Bosnia’s Kin in Turkey
Chapter 12 Balkan Ethnology
Chapter 13 Bosnian Folk
Chapter 14 Ethnicity and Nationality
Chapter 15 Accounting for Bosnian Culture
: Survey Report, Marco Index Bosnia Survey Question in English and Bosnian Qualitative Interview Protocol Consent Form in Bosnian

"This is a book about something that bears vital importance for the society itself, about something that has not been destroyed in the war and keeps surviving. Therefore, this is a book, first and foremost, about implicit culture of Bosnian spiritual space, about that part of culture of authentic living, which is in the basis of the most intimate and sensitive life experiences and events. I would like to add that this is a book about the most sensitive and vulnerable components of culture, but also, the most resilient elements which cannot be “spent” through time. This is, therefore, a book about that part of implicit culture, which, in Kolesnichenko's words, never depends on “leading political circumstances”, that is, on circumstances created by “the political system”, and which, like a snowdrop that grows on a piece of ground where snow has melted, finds its place among cruel, artificially made constructions of human society."-- Adnan Tufekčić, University of Tuzla

176 pages, cloth
$60.00 / €45.00 / £38.00

"The task that Keith Doubt sets for himself with this book is to rescue knowledge about common ethnic trans-cultural heritage in Bosnia Herzegovina. Relying on literary sources, earlier ethnographies, and in-depth interviews with women, the author paints a vivid and exciting picture of elopement from a gender perspective. Additional sources of information are two surveys conducted for this research.
The book represents fine scholarship, given its interdisciplinary approach and complex methodology. It is a valuable contribution to gender, kinship, and folklore studies." - Slavic Review

"Risk-taking and boundary-crossing bring benefits: in this case, an intriguing reflection on sociological theory regarding individual agency, secrecy, and the meaning of identity at different scales, from the (gendered) ego through the long-distance diaspora.
I was especially engaged by Doubt’s inference from the different depths of descent reckoning that Bosnian
Muslim society is in fact less patriarchal in structure than either Serb Orthodox or Croat Catholic.
Doubt challenges those who see radical discontinuity, chaos, or dislocation as the key tropes through which to make sense of the last half-century of Bosnia’s life. Through the Window represents an important contribution to the task of reminding the world that Bosnia-Herzegovina and its creative, resilient citizens have more to contribute to social science than a case study in collective violence." - Comparative Sociology

"Through the Window is a valuable addition to scholarship on Balkan studies. Doubt’s monograph is significant and meaningful. In collecting, recording, and analyzing the oral narratives Doubt has done the important work of preserving and contextualizing them for future generations. Interdisciplinary in nature, Doubt’s study will be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of Balkan studies, cultural anthropology, East European literatures, ethnic studies, folklore, political science, and sociology". - Slavic and East European Journal

"As this book suggests, though Bosnia-Hercegovina’s statehood is badly broken and its citizens politically divided along ethno-nationalist lines, shared common traditional cultural practices, albeit in decline, bear witness to the fact that the country continues to exist. Of course, this begs many questions, such as whether these cultural practices differ significantly between the different regions of Bosnia-Hercegovina, how much other traditional Bosnian cultural practices differ from those in Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, and what the implications are of the continued decline of these various practices for Bosnia-Hercegovina’s long-term survival. This fascinating little book does not provide all the answers, but it does suggest a lot of original ways of looking for them." -  Greater Surbiton (

"From the perspective of a local person who reads Keith Doubt’s books, I can say that his devotion to B&H reality have never been hypocritical. Although always considered as a friend of the country, he provides sharp observations and conclusions that have not been gentle. Doubt’s review has brought a new light to topics which were often difficult and often avoided in B&H discussion.
I would like to thank the author for giving us possibility to feel less strange in our own country by traveling with him through his new title." - Obrazovanje Odraslih - Adult Education