Tales from Albarado
Ponzi Logics of Accumulation in Postsocialist Albania
Tales from Albarado revisits times of excitement and loss in early 1990s Albania, in which about a dozen pyramid firms collapsed and caused the country to fall into anarchy and a near civil war. To gain a better understanding of how people from all walks of life came to invest in these financial schemes and how these schemes became intertwined with everyday transactions, dreams, and aspirations, Smoki Musaraj looks at the materiality, sociality, and temporality of financial speculations at the margins of global capital. She argues that the speculative financial practices of the schemes were enabled by official financial infrastructures (such as the postsocialist free-market reforms), by unofficial economies (such as transnational remittances), as well as by historically specific forms of entrepreneurship, transnational social networks, and desires for a European modernity. Overall, these granular stories of participation in the Albanian schemes help understand neoliberal capitalism as a heterogeneous economic formation that intertwines capitalist and noncapitalist forms of accumulation and investment.