Should life insurance be better imagined as “death insurance”? Graham Denyer Willis examines how the large number of people across the globe who lack access to formal insurance markets prepare for the impact that the death of a family member will have on their lives. In particular, Willis looks at how the PCC, a powerful criminal organization in Brazil, provides a form of insurance when its members are killed or incarcerated. In doing so, he reflects on how contemporary forms of capitalism, racial discrimination, and state violence create radically different relationships to “insurance.”
Graham Denyer Willis
Graham Denyer Willis is University Senior Lecturer in Development and Latin American Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge. He is a political ethnographer interested in practices and assumptions of power, focusing on lived conditions of violence and ambiguity. His award-winning ethnographic monograph, The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil, was published by University of California Press in 2015. He has published or forthcoming work in the American Political Science Review, Public Culture, Comparative Studies in Society and History, World Development, and the Latin American Research Review, among other journals. He is completing his second monograph, Politics Gone Missing, which traces how 22,000 people, per year on average, “go missing” in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. He is a 2011 Drugs, Security and Democracy fellow of the SSRC and is an editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies.