Vanessa Watters Opalo
Vanessa Watters Opalo is an economic anthropologist and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Science, Technology and International Affairs Program (STIA) at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
She studies the ways that finance, broadly defined, has become an important aspect of economic welfare and development projects.
Her current book project focuses on credit-granting institutions and the rise of the cooperative lending movement in Togo, specifically, and the West African region more broadly. This project examines the politics and ideologies of credit and debt by studying the complex landscape of banks, cooperatives, microfinance agencies, and religious organizations as they provide and also limit access to financial services.
At Georgetown, she is working with Assistant Professor Rajesh Veeraraghavan on a second research project on the topic of microinsurance markets. Focusing on Ghana, this project looks at the kinds of tools and practices that microinsurance providers use to screen prospective clients. This work is specifically focused on risk analysis and the types of data collection and mobile technologies involved in the production of risk categories.
This research will contribute to a larger project on insurance and risk in West Africa that analyzes the category of insurance, historically, as a financial technology crafted by and for different actors across colonial and postcolonial periods as assurance against imagined risks.