Home    Number 3, 2023

Secretly and Openly: The Inscrutable Ways of the Forbidden Profession in Albania

[Vtaine i v otkrytuiu: neispovedimye puti zapretnoi professii v Albanii]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954152303003X


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 01.03.2023

Accepted: 07.04.2023

About author(s)

Alexander Novik | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1123-1109 | njual@mail.ru | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)


prostitution, Western Balkans, machismo, sexuality, reflections in society, customary law and legislation


The article offers an anthropological analysis of the ups and downs of female prostitution in the western Balkans in the 20th and early 21st centuries. The difficult fate of the region, which managed to change several sociopolitical formations, cultural codes, and centers of civilizational attraction over the course of only three generations, had a huge impact on the public perception of the phenomenon of selling oneself for sexual activities: from a positive assessment of commercial expediency and “good for men” to a sharp condemnation of “bourgeois exploitation” and hopelessness of the unfortunate “victims of feudal relations and predatory capitalism”, from total silence about the very fact of the existence of the phenomenon to secret admiration for the courage of priestesses of love and, as a result, numerous reflections in the media and the social establishment, caused by the need to change the country’s criminal code regarding prostitution under the pressure from the European Union in order to harmonize legislative acts. In Albania, with its numerous patriarchal vestiges still remaining in the outback and “highly advanced” relations between the sexes in the capital region, there are different approaches of representatives of different social strata to the assessment of “love for money”, which is the main focus of my research interest, reflecting the 30 years of my fieldwork in various regions of the Balkans.


Novik, A.A. 2023. Vtaine i v otkrytuiu: neispovedimye puti zapretnoi professii v Albanii [Secretly and Openly: The Inscrutable Ways of the Forbidden Profession in Albania]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 43–69. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954152303003X EDN: COVOIQ

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