(Guillaume Herbaut / Institute )
Thousands of Albanians currently live in isolation, confined to their homes for fear of being killed in blood feuds. The tradition is rooted in a 15th-century code of conduct called the Kanun, which was revived after the fall of communism in 1990. In many regions, it commands more authority than contemporary criminal law.
Arguments, slights and long-standing rivalries escalate into fights that engulf entire families, including children. A French photographer named Guillaume Herbaut traveled to northern Albania to document the lives of people in hiding. Children such as Christian and Alexander Vukai (above), he says, “can’t imagine a future.” The boys, then ages 8 and 10, had never gone to school and had no contact with the outside world. “They live with a law stronger than their destiny,” Herbaut says. “For them, time is stopped.”