SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Ironies of Solidarity: Insurance and Financialization of Kinship in South Africa

Ironies of Solidarity


Elizabeth Hull (SOAS), Maia Green (Manchester), Erik Baehre (Leiden)

Date: 24 February 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 24 February 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

An ethnographic study of how financial products and services affect inequalities and conflicts in South Africa.

Set in one of the world’s most unequal and violent places, this ethnographic study reveals how insurance companies discovered a vast market of predominantly poor African clients. After apartheid ended in 1994, South Africa became a ‘testing ground’ for new insurance products, new marketing techniques and pioneering administrative models with a potentially global market.

Drawing on Rorty’s notion of irony for understanding how the contradictions inherent to solidarity affect inequality and conflict as well as drawing on a vast array of case studies, Ironies of Solidarity examines how both Africans enjoy the freedoms that they have gained in financial terms and how the onset of democracy affected the risks faced in everyday life. Bähre examines the ways in which policies are sold and claims are handled, offering a detailed analysis of South Africa’s insurance sector.

Speakers: Author Erik Baehre (Leiden), Maia Green (Manchester)

Chair: Elizabeth Hull (SOAS)

Discussant: Christopher Webb (Carleton Univ, Canada)


This event is open to the public, however registration is required. Online Registration

Organiser: SOAS Centre of African Studies, International African Institute, and Southern African Seminar Series

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