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Erika Marie Vause
St. John's University, New York (Queens, NY 11439-9000)
Imagining Disaster: Insurance, Citizenship, and Financial Futures in Modern France

Research for a book on the history of insurance in modern France.

I will use my funding to perform two months of research in France on a book about the social and cultural role of insurance in creating French notions of economic citizenship from the Enlightenment through the early twentieth century. The development of insurance from a little-known and frequently condemned financial tool used largely by mariners to a possible answer to France’s “social question” representing a “third way” between liberal individualism and state-dominated socialism is a story that has yet to be told. This book, which draws on previously untapped archival sources, traces the history of a broad array of financial instruments designed to mitigate risk and precarity– including agricultural, health and life insurance, retirement annuities, and savings plans – and  shows how the logic of insurance not only transformed discussions of social welfare by displacing prior ideas of fault and responsibility, but also explores the growing conceptualization of the welfare state as insurer.

Project fields:
Economic History; European History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 7/31/2021