Regulated Lives: Life Insurance and British Society, 1820-1920


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




My project explores the transformation of different conceptions of human life in the British life insurance industry between 1820 and 1920, as well as in the more general context of Victorian culture. As insurance companies expanded their market during the nineteenth century, they came to reconceive their customers' lives as both consuming subjects and objectified abstractions. By tracing this process in company archives and trade publications, I hope to show how ideas of personal identity, as they passed into an era of statistical thinking and capitalist bureaucracy, altered to accommodate modernity, but also showed many signs of resisting its totalizing promise.