Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Marine Insurance as Self-Governance in the BC Legal History Roundtable

[We have the following announcement from our friends at Boston College.]

We invite you to join us in the Rare Book Room for our second event of the Boston College Legal History Roundtable 2016-2017 on November 17.  We will begin in the Rare Book Room of the Boston College Law School Library at 4:30. Refreshments are available beginning at 4:15 pm. outside the Library Conference Room.

We are hosting Hannah Farber, "Self-Governance By Means of the State: Marine Insurance, the Laws of Merchants, and the the British Empire, 1622-1765."

Hannah Farber, who received her Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley in 2014, is currently teaching the history of globalization in the Boston College History Department.  In 2017, she will begin a position as an assistant professor of history at Columbia University.

Her manuscript project addresses the ways in which marine insurance functioned as a form of governance within the context  of 18-19c American state making. Other current research interests include early American political economy, the financial relationships among individuals, corporations, and nations, and the visual and material culture of maritime commerce.  For the paper, please email Here is the abstract:
While marine insurance fueled the growth of the British Empire, insurance and the state possessed differing terrain, priorities, and governance structures. This chapter from my manuscript-in-progress argues that the war-making, geographical expansion, and financialization of the British Empire (c. 1600s-1700s) created a new imperial political economy that bound merchants more closely to the state. At the same time, however, the expanding empire’s multiple legal regimes and its incessant wars generated more insistent claims that insurance functioned as its own form of governance, within the framework of lex mercatoria, the laws of merchants. (While many have claimed that the law of merchants never really existed, the idea of its ancient integrity and utility nonetheless drove important changes in early modern Atlantic political economy.) Armed with both capital and expertise, marine insurers shaped state institutions governing the practice and adjudication of insurance with one hand, and circumvented them with the other.