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Drawing upon the work of Victor W. Turner on the liminal period of a rite of passage, this study examines the elopements of women in Bosnia. During the elopement, an adolescent woman is between two states of being, one as an unmarried girl, “cura,” and another as a married woman, “žena.” For a brief period she is “betwixt and between.” The finding is that after elopements marriages gain an achieved rather than an ascribed status. While elopements occur within traditional, patriarchal social structures, they defy parental authority over a young person’s marriage decision. This study is based on in-depth interviews with Bosnjak (Muslim) and Serbian Orthodox women in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Keywords: elopement, agency, liminality, Bosnia, gender, ethnicity