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Five short documentaries from the ERC 'Moralising Misfortune' project

What moral concerns do people have when they encounter the financial sector in their everyday life? Erik Bähre's ERC consolidator project 'Moralising Misfortune: A comparative anthropology of commercial insurance’ aims to find out. In collaboration with Brechtje Boeke, five short documentaries from Brazil, Italy, India, The Netherlands and the USA give insights into fieldwork on highly personal and intimate encounters with financial globalisation.

1. The Black Box in Bologna: A short documentary - by Irene Moretti

By portraying seven perspectives on the recent spread of the black box in the car insurance domain, this documentary sheds light on the much-debated relation between responsibility, privacy, and control. This is further explored in Irene Moretti's PhD research. 

2. The Price of Death: Life Insurance in Black New Orleans - by Nikki Mulder

Funeral directors probably know better than anyone that as long as we live, we are certainly going to die. Yet, for some, death may come at too high a price. How do people reckon financially with the biological fact of their mortality? Based on Nikki Mulder's PhD research, this short documentary sheds light on what is known as the ‘burial market’ of the life insurance industry in New Orleans. 

3. Risky Business: Crop insurance in rural India - by Tim van de Meerendonk

In central India, agriculture is a risky business. As climate change has altered weather patterns and monsoon rains are becoming increasingly unpredictable, a new crop insurance policy promises to use financial management to control the extremes of nature. For his PhD research, Tim van de Meerendonk set out to explore various sides of the crop insurance story in a small town in rural Maharashtra. 

4. A struggle for care: public health and private insurance in Brasília - by Erik Bähre and Fabíola Gomes

Access to healthcare takes us to the heart of Brazil’s polarized debate on social justice and inequality. This film, which is a collaboration between principal investor Erik Bähre and Fabíola Gomes, explores some of the difficulties people face when they need medical attention and the dilemmas of financing healthcare.

5. Mind the gap: Mental health and a regulated insurance market in the Netherlands - by Nikkie Buskermolen

In the Netherlands, healthcare is organized by a regulated insurance market. This combination of state and market creates tensions that are explored in this short film, in which psychotherapists reflect on their difficult position in the system. Nikkie Buskermolen's Phd research includes the perspective of health insurers and how they navigate in this system; in the current film, however, the focus is specifically on the perspective of the psychotherapist.

All documentaries are made in collaboration with filmmaker and anthropologist Brechtje Boeke. The documentaries are part of ongoing fieldwork on insurance by Erik Bähre, Irene Moretti, Nikki Mulder, Tim van de Meerendonk and Nikkie Buskermolen. The research is part of the Moralising Misfortune project, principal investigator Erik Bähre, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant Agreement No. 682467).

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