Among the cadre of journalists writing about the opaque and often bizarre world of the world’s richest people – both legitimate and illegitimate – the writer Atossa Araxia Abrahamian has one of the most unique voices. Her book Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen explores the hardly understood business of
Among the cadre of journalists writing about the opaque and often bizarre world of the world’s richest people – both legitimate and illegitimate – the writer Atossa Araxia Abrahamian has one of the most unique voices. Her book Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen explores the hardly understood business of selling citizenship to people in need of a new passport, but it’s a much more thoughtful journey than that description may suggest. She’s not just telling stories from her reporting: She goes deeper and tries to understand the motivations and cultural implications of these quirks of global capitalism.
It’s for that reason that we’re big fans of her work, including a blockbuster piece related to Jho Low’s efforts to use Kuwait’s relationship with the Comoros Islands to further his schemes. We are grateful she agreed to answer some questions for Whale Hunting’s weekly interview series CRAFT. Please also check out her newsletter, Terra Nullius.
You manage to explore the world of the super rich and shady through a tone that’s more intellectually vibrant than the usual investigative coverage of corruption, offshore and passports-for-sale. How did you find your voice as a writer in this world? How would you describe your vantage point?
My husband likes to joke that I am “one percent one percent” by virtue of having grown up around a lot of rich kids in Geneva and going to an international school. Being adjacent to the world of the ultra-rich from a young age without being a part of it really demystified this group of people to me - when you’re 14 and you hear about heiresses flying private to London to party for a night, or classmates getting away with speeding or smoking pot because their dad has diplomatic immunity, this behavior all just kind of blends into the scenery. I think that familiarity helps me not glamorize this world, and avoid overly simplistic ideas about how the subjects of my stories are “good” or “bad.” I also think I instinctively understand their sense of humor (insofar that they have one) and that goes a long way.
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