Dark Finance
Illiquidity and Authoritarianism at the Margins of Europe
Fabio Mattioli



DESPITE WHAT COVERS SUGGEST, books, and especially ethnographies, are not individual projects. This book would not have been possible if not for the help of people at Construx and other Macedonian companies, who took me in despite my rudimentary Macedonian and my lack of useful contribution to their work. I was honored to dress in the company’s blue overalls and to share, albeit from the outside, in some of their struggles.

I owe numerous intellectual debts to many people. Katherine Verdery, Michael Blim, Setha Low, Jeff Maskovsky, David Harvey, Julie Skurski, Emily Channell-Justice, David Borenstein, Naomi Adiv, Jay Blair, Juraj Anzulović, Andreina Torres, Saygun Gökarıksel, Salim Karlitekin, Rocio Gil, and others facilitated the book’s inception during my years at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Emily Greble, Susan Woodward, Madigan Fichter, and members of the NYC Kruzhok were formidable companions of discussion with whom I shaped many of my early ideas. At the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University, the book has matured into its current shape thanks to the support of Larry Wolff, Rosario Forlenza, Christian Martin, Erica Robles-Anderson, Lilly Chumley, Sophie Gonick, Ricardo Cardoso, and Liliana Gil. But it was at the University of Melbourne that the project saw the light of day amid the lively inputs of John Cox, Debra McDougal, Harriette Richards, Max Holleran, Michelle Carmody, Carla Wilson, Kari Dahlgren, Cynthia Sear, Tammy Kohn, Cameo Dalley, Monica Minnegal, Fiona Haines, Andy Dawson, Michael Herzfeld, Amanda Gilbertson, Kalissa Alexeyeff, Erin Fitz-Henry, and many other colleagues at the School of Social and Political Sciences.

Some of the key insights of this book were developed through fleeting conversations with a nomadic community of inspiring colleagues such as Elizabeth Dunn, Larisa Kurtović, Jessica Greenberger, Sarah Muir, Neringa Klumbyte, Andrew Gilbert, Matilde Cordoba-Azcarate, Claudio Sopranzetti, Marek Mikuš, Dana Johnson, and Alan Smart. Aaron Z. Pitluck, Daniel Souleles, Paul Langley, Ana-Flavia Badue, and other participants at the Society for Economic Anthropology 2017 conference helped me develop the way I thought of financialization. Many thanks to Deborah James, Ivan Rajković, Sohini Kar, Zaira Tiziana Lofranco, Antonio Pusceddu, and Ramona Stout, who helped improve several early drafts.

I am particularly fortunate to have had the amazing engagement of a cohort of scholars of Macedonia, such as Goran Janev, Andy Graan, Keith Brown, Rozita Dimova, Dave Wilson, Vasiliki Neofotistos, Ljupco Ristevski, and other colleagues from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of Skopje, who provided advice, example, and contacts over a decade of work in the country. Tijana Radeska, Petar Todorov, Gani Ramadani, and Branimir Jovanovic have been terrific in helping me access various materials and gracious enough to share them over dinner and drinks.

This book would not have happened without the enthusiastic stewardship of Michelle Lipinski and the care of the entire editorial team at Stanford University Press. At this time of turbulence in the publishing world, their commitment to intellectual exchanges and their support of early-career academics has been nothing short of exemplary. Several other institutions provided financial and logistical support to the project. Many thanks to the Council for European Studies at Columbia University, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, The CUNY Graduate Center, the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, The Remarque Institute at New York University, and the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

The book’s greatest debts, however, are owed to those mentors, friends, and comrades who helped me navigate the rough seas of intellectual, economic, and existential uncertainty. My mother, Cristina, my father, Luciano, and my brother, Federico, have supported me with their unshakable faith. The example of my grandparents—Enrico, Norfa, Beppe, and Marisa—and of Maestro Faccini taught me the value, dignity, and poetics of hard work. Bela, my companion, held strong at the rudder as we moved across three continents, taking me to unexpected places where my mind could wander and be completed by the beauty of hers. To these comrades, past, present, and future, I dedicate this book.