Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Valuing lives and deaths: an ethnography of life insurance amongst African Americans in New Orleans

Part of ‘Moralising Misfortune: A comparative anthropology of commercial insurance’, an ERC Consolidator project of Erik Bähre.

Duration
2017 - 2021
Contact
Nikki Mulder

Moralising Misfortune: A comparative ethnography of commercial insurance

What moral concerns do people have when they encounter the financial sector in their everyday life? This question will be studied in six countries: Brazil, Italy, India, The Netherlands, South Africa and the USA. The project explicitly deals with highly personal and intimate encounters with financial globalisation. This project examines commercial insurance within the context of broader transactional systems. It examines private insurance as a form of solidarity that is connected with other solidarities, for example among family members, social groups, the (welfare) state, or within voluntary associations.

PhD project: Valuing lives and deaths: an ethnography of life insurance amongst African Americans in New Orleans

In the United States, commercial life insurance has long been deeply embedded in Black communities. Ironically, it has worked both to sustain a racist order – through race-based rates and benefits – and as a vehicle for social justice by providing the means to organize proper and pageant funerals. This study explores the contemporary significance of life insurance amongst African American families, individuals, and benevolent societies in New Orleans. 

Connection with other research

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