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PRESENTATION

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nsurance history has enjoyed an increasing presence in general economic history conferences around the world. The 15th (Utrecht, 2009), 16th (Stellenbosch, 2012) and 17th (Kyoto, 2015) World Economic History Congresses (WEHC) each included sessions on the insurance business, some of which generated more specialised academic events. The insurance history session at the 16th WEHC, in particular, attracted a wide audience of international experts, while at the 17th WEHC, insurance history expanded its presence with two specialised sessions. All these meetings have resulted in numerous publications, either as research articles in international peer-reviewed journals, or as books produced by leading academic publishers to the highest standards.

The historical study of insurance as a private business has been complemented in recent years by another key line of research focused on social insurance. In this field, papers on workplace accident insurance, pensions, health insurance and unemployment insurance programs have gained in importance, particularly as current changes in such programs make it useful to understand their historical origins. In this sense, high quality research on insurance by a growing global network of scholars is increasing its presence in the agenda of world social and economic history.

In sum, historical research on risk and insurance has emerged as a field in continuous expansion, featured by a high level of internationalisation and by a high capacity for generating scientific knowledge that is subject to the most rigorous international scholarly standards. In recent years, the number of academics, PhD students and research projects dealing with insurance history has increased in terms of both quantity and quality. In parallel, new horizons opened up by the growth of academic networks that include experts from other disciplines, such as Sociology, Law, Financial Economics, Management and Actuarial Sciences, enable the development of exciting new approaches and methodologies to study changing perceptions of risk and the performance of insurance in the long term. To date, however, the specialist conferences and meetings organised within these networks have been modest in scale, with no more than 20 to 30 researchers attending at any one time.

We believe that we have now reached the point at which there is a large and growing group of scholars and other experts around the world who would benefit enormously from participating in a major conference that would facilitate existing intellectual synergies among them, but also generate new ones. We consider that the combined experience gained from playing a leading role in previous international events gives us the know how to successfully organise such a major conference and also to deliver substantive outputs in the form of publications and new collaborative projects that will significantly advance this important field of research. For all of the above reasons, we think that the moment has come to organise an international congress that will bring together world-leading experts on the history of risk and insurance, and which will embrace the broadest range of approaches, methodologies and chronologies, from its medieval origins to the most recent developments in the industry.

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