American Anthropologist

The Traffic in Brides

Authors


Abstract

Petr Lom's film, Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, offers viewers a striking visual narration of the deeply routinized practices of bride capture in contemporary Central Asia. In this review, I offer historical context eschewed by the film, observing how, contrary to popular belief, bride kidnapping increased under Russian imperial supervision. It later dwindled in the activist Soviet period, but rose again in the relative anarchy of the postsocialist landscape. What the film invites but does not explicitly entertain is a complex arithmetic of culturally coded understandings of volition, personal property, and alliance.

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