The Capitalisation of ‘Excess Life’ through Life Insurance

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The role of life insurance, as portrayed by the industry, is to get individuals and heirs back in financial circulation after accidents and catastrophic events. This role, however, is not innocent. It involves a complex problematisation of what it means to render life as valuable, commodifiable and securable. Life insurance effects a translation of the current and potential economic value of a life into investment capital. In return, it offers a form of security that promises compensation against insurable events. While insuring, the industry creates economies of security that have a historical dimension as they are anchored to the development of liberal economies. These economies are possible by what is here termed the “excess of life,” which in turn becomes potential for resisting the biopolitical order of insurance. This article critically engages with the film Code 46 as an empirical site from which to make evident the political possibility of “excess life.” After an analytical depiction of the film, the article offers an analysis of the valuation of life as practices of inclusion, which involve a vital ontology and which produce moral economies. The article concludes with a reflection on the immanent resistance to life's valuation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)300-316
    Number of pages17
    JournalGlobal Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Cite this