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The buying and selling of citizenship has become a legitimate, thriving business in just a few years. Entrepreneurs are renouncing America and Europe in favor of tax havens in the Caribbean with the help of a cottage industry of lawyers, bankers, and consultants that specialize in expatriation. But as journalist Atossa Araxia Abrahamian discovered, the story of twenty-first century citizenship is bigger than millionaires buying their second or third passport. When she learned that mysterious middlemen had persuaded the Comoro Islands to turn to selling citizenship as a new source of revenue, she decided to follow the money trail to the Middle East. There, she found that officials in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates had bulk-ordered passports for their bidoon, or stateless population, transforming these men, women, and children without countries into Comorian citizens practically overnight. In her timely and eye-opening first book, Abrahamian travels the globe to meet these willing and unwitting "cosmopolites," or citizens of the world, who show us how transactional and unpredictable national citizenship in the twenty-first century can be.
Atossa Abrahamian is an opinion editor at Al Jazeera America, a longtime editor and contributor at The New Inquiry, and a contributing editor to Dissent magazine. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, the London Review of Books, and other publications. She has also worked as a general news and business reporter for Reuters. She grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, and studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Columbia University, where she returned to study investigative reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.