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Accepted Paper:

Reflections on conjugal futures in Southern Mitroivca (Kosovo)  


Rozafa Berisha (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses destiny as an explanatory model mobilized by young women to make sense of the failure to adhere to the conjugal norm. This model becomes a site for negotiation and transformation of gendered subjectivties in Southern Mitrovica.

Paper long abstract:

Marriage in Southern Mitrovica remains the normative mode to acquire adult status. Because it enhances one’s social worth, conjugal futures are hoped for by young women, yet, their actualization is met with uneven success. Many find themselves excluded from this ideal, unable to live up to the locally held notions of female adulthood. Thus, failure to adhere to the conjugal norm becomes a pressing concern, especially for those who are approaching the end of the perceived marriageable age.


Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the postindustrial and ethnically divided town of Southern Mitrovica, this paper discusses an explanatory model utilized by young women to make sense of the unattained conjugal ideal. Failure to adhere to the conjugal norm in Southern Mitrovica is often considered less as a result of one’s earthly actions than of kismet (destiny), thereby allocating the responsibility outside oneself. By recasting failure to live up with the conjugal ideal in terms of kismet, young women not only rationalize it, but they also leave the possibilities for unexpected ‘twists’ open due to kismet’s precept quality. This allows for the present state to be perceived as temporary, rather than as the final ‘conjugal destiny’ (Elliot 2016). Moreover, this explanatory model feds into the debates about agency and female morality, becoming a site of negotiation and transformation of gendered subjectivities in Southern Mitrovica.

Panel Inte05b
Marriage in the Global South: youth between love, rules, and desires II