Recovering debts: Microfinance loan officers and the work of “proxy-creditors” in India

by Sohini Kar

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Microfinance loan officers play a critical, if underexamined, role in incorporating the poor into financial networks at the global peripheries. As “proxy-creditors,” loan officers in Kolkata, India, must produce and alienate debt relationships to create loan products. I argue that the process of financialization is articulated through local idioms of moneylending, care, and respect. Moreover, at the heart of this labor is the unresolved tension between capitalist expansion and ethical concerns for the everyday relationships that are used to extend credit to the financially excluded.