Historical Social Research

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Cornel Zwierlein, Insurances as Part of Human Security, their Timescapes, and Spatiality [Abstract]

In the present discussion on ‘Human Security’, Insurances have been only lately involved. The contribution starts with the assumption that Insurances are historically an especially fruitful object of research for the general question of the history of security regimes. It shows that, contrary to some suggestions held in risk sociology, early Mediterranean maritime insurances are to be judged rather as something completely different than the modern insurances from the 17th century onwards managed by merchants’ companies and states. The latter belonged to a secular process of constructing a ‘normal secure society’ during enlightenment. The relationship between Timescapes, Spatiality and Insurances is analyzed: are Insurances per se an instrument of colonizing ‘the future’ because they are instrumental in calculating and constructing clearly defined ‘risks’? or is that future orientation just one element, but is perhaps the wider socio-political context with its prevailing timescapes in which the insurance operations were embedded a changing one from pre- to postmodernity? Asking those questions the article contributes to an approach of using ‘human security’ as a heuristical device to explore the history of security production.