The risk of birth: Life insurance for enslaved pregnant women in fifteenth-century Genoa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Why did fifteenth-century Genoese slaveholders insure the lives of enslaved pregnant women? I argue that their assessment of the risks associated with childbirth reflected their views on the connection between slavery, property, and lineage. Genoese slaveholders saw the reproductive labor of enslaved women as a potential contribution to their lineage as well as their property. Because their children by enslaved women might become their heirs, Genoese slaveholders were inclined to worry about and seek protection against the risk of maternal mortality. In the context of the commercial revolution and the rise of third-party insurance, they developed life insurance for enslaved pregnant women to complement the fines already required of those who illegally impregnated enslaved women and thereby endangered their lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-217
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Global Slavery
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Birth
  • Capitalism
  • Death
  • Insurance
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Motherhood
  • Slavery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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