Microcredit loans—most famously systems of group-based
borrowing—are a key tool in global economic development frameworks.
Building outward from microcredit programs in Paraguay, I explore the
discontinuous materialities of both kin- and debt-based obligations,
especially at their intersection. I argue that borrowers feel the life span
of debts most acutely when mortuary practices anchored in kinship
ties are bound up with the task of taking on the financial obligations of
the dead. This analysis shows how the bonds between kinship, death,
and indebtedness go beyond analogy, for collective debt is not ‘like’ a
kinship relationship. Instead, microcredit social collateral provides a
means for people to deal with the broader issues affecting the life span
of individuals, objects, and commitments, as well as the human stakes
involved with obligation.