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Mallory Hope



Email: mhope@fas.harvard.edu


Mallory Hope is an economic historian working within the field of Early Modern Europe. Her body of work explores how pre-industrial societies coped with uncertainty and with the insecurity of property and resources. Early maritime insurance markets are the unlikely point of entry into these questions in Mallory’s current book project, titled Underwriting Risk: Trade, War, Insurance, and Legal Institutions in Eighteenth-Century France and Its Empire. The book starts with an archaic financial instrument, the marine insurance contract, which was an essential buttress for global trade in the early modern era, but it goes on to interrogate and even to model quantitative reasoning during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The central question that motivates the book is, how did actors in early modern insurance markets translate the variegated risks that ships and cargo were exposed to at sea into a single number, an insurance premium? In this project, Mallory draws upon new and extensive archival sources: over 4,000 maritime insurance records from three French port cities (Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nantes), as well as Admiralty Court records, Chamber of Commerce minutes, and business letters.

Mallory has facilitated conversations on the history of insurance and the theme of risk as a co-organizer of “Risk and Uncertainty in the Premodern World,” an online seminar hosted on the Institute for Historical Research’s platform. The last session in the seminar’s vibrant program came to a close in June 2022, but Mallory and her co-organizers are editing a special forum for the International Journal of Maritime History which will showcase some of the research presented during the seminar, including Mallory’s article, “Risk and Uncertainty in France’s Atlantic Slave Trade.”

Mallory is currently finishing up her PhD at Yale University. She was previously awarded a Sokoloff Fellowship from the Economic History Association for the 2021-2022 academic year. In 2024, she will join the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor of Early Modern Europe.