San Francisco

The burning of San Francisco, April 18, [19]06, view from St. Francis Hotel. Pillsbury Picture Co., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

History of Insurance in a Global Perspective

An International Conference

University of Basel, Switzerland, 20–22 July 2022

This international conference investigates insurance as a crucial element of the globaliza­tion of finance and of capitalism in general. Since the early modern period, geographical diffusion of insurance is closely linked to processes of globalization and de-globalization. The conference presents a broad picture of the multi-dimensional history of international insurance. This covers different periods, regions and branches of insurance: from late-medieval and early modern maritime insurance over the diffusion of life and non-life insurance in the Western hemisphere during the 19th century to the rise of non-Western markets and corporations in colonial and post-colonial contexts. This global lens invites the combination of the wide global perspective with local, micro-historical perspectives.

Relevant topics include, for example, the diffusion of marine insurance in 19th century East Asia, as part of the merchant communities, of fire and life insurance in the settler communi­ties of post-independence states of Latin America, or of car insurance in 20th century post-colonial Africa. Sessions and papers are invited to take either a comparative view, contras­ting different geographical contexts, or a generalizing, international perspective, investiga­ting for example the internationalization and globalization of insurance or international net­works and organizations related to insurance (congresses, societies, cartels etc.). They can investigate the business context, including competing forms of risk prevention and financial precaution in non-Western regions, the rise of local, non-Western insurance in­dustries, and the interaction between local and international companies in insurance. The conference theme also includes the areas of consumption, such as the social and ethnic patterns of insurance markets, and the changing perceptions of risk in different geographic and cultural contexts.

The conference will be held as a three-day event, on 20–22 July 2022, at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Scholars are particularly invited to cross traditional academic bounda­ries by offering insights on geographical entanglements or trans-epochal developments. The conference follows an interdisciplinary format, bringing together scholars from various disciplines interested in the history of insurance in global perspectives, notably from Business History, International Business Studies, Global History, Consumer History, the History of Law, and Historical Sociology.