WEEDY FINANCE: Weather Insurance and Parametric Life on Unstable Grounds

Caroline E. Schuster*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Based in the agrarian worlds of commercial sesame farming in northern Paraguay, where insurance companies are now selling weather derivatives to poor farmers, this article tracks financial practices that depend less on the healthy crops and more on the weeds that thrive among the profitable plants. Parametric insurance operates like a derivative and is triggered by certain weather conditions, which raises questions about the limits of survivability for human-crop relations. I sketch out a series of concerns about weeds as an entry point and helpful heuristic for multiple overlapping kinds of speculation in a multispecies, capitalist, and troubled landscape. By gridding the world to a limited set of expedient parameters, what generative social and human grounds do we lose in the process? A speculative anthropological imaginary might posit “weedy finance” as a critical standpoint and set of political claims for casting climate-based finance as one of the lively systems that can and should be intentionally and selectively weeded out.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)589-617
    Number of pages29
    JournalCultural Anthropology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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