Fear at the Beginning of American Independence: Approaching the Spatial History of Insurance
To further develop this argument, my presentation will focus on the spatial development of the nascent American insurance business between 1752 – the year that is commonly acknowledged as the founding year of the first domestically American insurance company – and 1840, the time in which scholars consider insurance as “established.” The discussion will include a new database I am compiling of early insurance companies regarding their spatial distribution, as well as the locally diverse “risks” these companies turned to. To visualize these findings, the project uses digital tools that help to merge distinct sets of data, and to transform them into a single interactive map that reveals the state of insurance at different points in time. By revealing local and temporal particulars of the insurance industry, the map historicizes concepts of “risk” as related to cultural and social trends that emerged in various corners of the young American nation, and hence challenges the notion that risk is simply inherent to the human condition.
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