Insuring Life: Value, Security and Risk, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Insuring Life

Value, Security and Risk, 1st Edition

By Luis Lobo-Guerrero


176 pages

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This book is a contribution to the scholarly engagement with the wider problem of governing through risk and the politics of uncertainty. It takes life insurance as an empirical site from which to ask: what is the kind of governance created through insurance an instance of, and how does it contribute to the transcendence of liberalism?  By making a distinction between capable life as object of insurance, and potential life as that which escapes its control, the book conducts a historical epistemological analysis of the problems of valuation, truth production, securitisation, classification, and gendering that constitute life insurance products and practices.

Insuring Life offers a critical engagement with the epistemology of life insurance to demonstrate the unnecessary and precarious character of the conditions that make this instrument of liberal governance possible. It concludes that the transcendence of liberalism relies on the technological agency of these instruments and that its challenge begins by redefining the terms under which the potential of life, if invaluable, is to be thought as event.

The book follows Insuring War as the third of a trilogy that analyses how concepts and practices of power, risk and security materialise in the form of insurance as a central instrument of governance in the liberal world. It will be of great use to scholars, researchers, and postgraduate students of political economy, critical security studies and political theory, the biopolitics of security and post-structural politics. 

Insuring War:

Insuring Security:


'Insuring Life is a state-of-the-art intervention in the debates on the nature of the governing of life as uncertainty. Combines a breathtakingly detailed analysis of life insurance with a fresh philosophy of the event' - Professor Louise Amoore, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK

'Insuring Life is far more than an ironic twist on ‘life insurance’. The third volume of Lobo-Guerreros’s brilliant trilogy on insurance as governance, by refusing to take life for granted, shows how insurance practices constitute vitality itself, creating, shaping and sustaining life.' - Professor J. Peter Burgess, Ecole Normale Supérieure, France

Praise for previous volumes in the trilogy:

'Insuring War does much more than show how important practices of insurance were to the development of modern warfare and security. Historically rich and theoretically sophisticated, the book demonstrates the central importance of the Probabilistic Revolution and secular risk calculation to the very possibility of sovereignty and modern statehood. Highly recommended to students of International Relations and International Political Economy alike.' - Marieke de Goede, Professor of Politics, University of Amsterdam

'Lobo-Guerrero’s Insuring War is, first and foremost an important contribution to political thinking. Eschewing the traditional framing of violent conflict that foregrounds executive decision-making, arms races, and geopolitical alliances, Insuring War makes evident that what is central to the politics of deadly engagements is "the concerted art of managing uncertainty.' - Michael Shapiro, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawai’i at Mãnoa, USA

'Luis Lobo-Guerrero is what I consider to be one of the foremost scholars in International Relations and specifically Critical Security Studies. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s analytics and methods and forming part of a triptych devoted to insurance and security, Lobo-Guerrero provides in this volume a fascinating and original investigation into insurance and its uses in time of war.' - Vivienne Jabri, Professor of International Politics, King’s College London

Table of Contents


1. Life insurance and the politics of vital uncertainty -introduction

2. The Problem: The technological transcendence of liberalism

3. Insuring the Life Excess

4. Capital Securitisation: an emerging order in the valuation of life

5. Uberrima Fides, trust and contracted life

6. Sex, insurance and the valuation of life

7. Life beyond insurance, life as the potential of becoming

8. An epistemology of life insurance

About the Author

Luis Lobo-Guerrero is Professor of History and Theory of International Relations at the University of Groningen. He is the author of Insuring Security: Bioopolitics, Security and Risk, and Insuring War: Sovereignty, Security and Risk.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General