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Indigenous Peoples and Demography: The Complex Relation between Identity and Statistics

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Indigenous Peoples and Demography

The Complex Relation between Identity and Statistics

Edited by Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld

354 pages, 1 map, 26 figures, 36 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-000-5 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-335-2 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (November 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-003-6 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


This interesting collection looks at changes in population studies and examines indigeneity in contexts as different as Australia and Norway. It is particularly valuable with respect to two broad geographic categories: countries originally settled by British colonists, and states in northern Europe… the study of categorization and enumeration offers valuable insights on how ethnic boundaries are established, and how--inevitably--they are challenged and contested.”  ·  Choice

“Using historical and demographical evidence, the contributors explore the creation and validity of categories for enumerating indigenous populations, the use and misuse of ethnic markers, micro-demographic investigations, and demographic databases, and thereby show how the situation varies substantially between countries.”  ·  International Journal of Anthropology

Taken as a whole, [this volume] offers a truly remarkable contribution to the field of indigenous demography. From the content point of view, this is an outstanding example of a dialog between demography, history, and anthropology in the amount of statistical data and analytical synthesis offered… Given the diversity of geographical approach, this volume will be of great interest to specialists in virtually any field of social sciences, politics, and economics.”  ·  Sibirica

As a fascinating set of accounts of the construction of ethnicity and indigeneity among (largely) historical census-takers in (largely) northern populations, it is a compelling read.”  ·  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


When researchers want to study indigenous populations they are dependent upon the highly variable way in which states or territories enumerate, categorise and differentiate indigenous people. In this volume, anthropologists, historians, demographers and sociologists have come together for the first time to examine the historical and contemporary construct of indigenous people in a number of fascinating geographical contexts around the world, including Canada, the United States, Colombia, Russia, Scandinavia, the Balkans and Australia. Using historical and demographical evidence, the contributors explore the creation and validity of categories for enumerating indigenous populations, the use and misuse of ethnic markers, micro-demographic investigations, and demographic databases, and thereby show how the situation varies substantially between countries.

Per Axelsson is a Senior Researcher of the Centre for Sami Research at Umeå University, Sweden and a Wallenberg Academy Fellow. His current research focus on a longitudinal study of colonization, state and the health of Indigenous Peoples in Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, 1850-2000. Recent publications include Global Environmental Change, Global Health Action and Dynamis. He co-chairs the network of Family/Demography within the European Social Science History Association.

Peter Sköld is Professor of History at Umeå University and Director of Arctic Research Centre. His present research focuses on sustainable development and he leads a collaborative project with the University of Botswana. Recent  publications focus on health issues, vulnerability and fertility among indigenous peoples (International Journal of Circumpolar Health, Global Health Action and Polar Geography).

Subject: General Anthropology Sociology


List of Figures, Maps and, Tables

Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld

Chapter 1. Fractional Identities: the Political Arithmetic of Aboriginal Victorians
Len Smith, Janet McCalman, Ian Anderson, Sandra Smith, Joanne Evans, Gavan McCarthy and Jane Beer

Chapter 2. Building Ethnic Boundaries in New Zealand: Representations of Maori Identity in the Census
Tahu Kukutai

Chapter 3. Counting Indians: Census Categories in Late Colonial and Early Republican Spanish America
Steinar A. Saether

Chapter 4. The Construction of Life Tables for the American Indian Population at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
J. David Hacker and Michael Haines

Chapter 5. The Aboriginal Population and the 1891 Census of Canada
Michelle Hamilton and Kris Inwood

Chapter 6. ‘In the national registry, all people are equal’ - Sami in Swedish statistical sources
Per Axelsson

Chapter 7. The Registers of the ‘Sami tax’ from 1600 to 1750, and their Usefulness for Reconstructing Population Development and Settlement
Lars Ivar Hansen

Chapter 8. Viewing Ethnicity From The Perspectives of The Individuals and Households – Finnmark During the Last Part of The Nineteenth Century
Hilde L. Jåstad

Chapter 9.. ‘Finn in Flux’: ‘finn’ as a Designation in Norwegian Population Censuses of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Bjørg Evjen

Chapter 10. Testing and Constructing Ethnicity Variables in Late 19th Century Censuses
Gunnar Thorvaldsen

Chapter 11.  Out of the Backwater? Prospects for Contemporary Sami Demography in Norway
Torunn Pettersen

Chapter 12. Indigenous Household Structure And Economy Among Lake Essei Iakuts 1926/27: The Mystery Of The Magnate Reindeer Herders
David G. Anderson

Chapter 13. Ethnodemographics and Identity of Indigenous People in the Central Taimyr Lowlands
John Ziker

Chapter 14. Russian Legal Concepts And Indigenous Peoples Demography
Sergey V. Sokolovskiy

Chapter 15. Ethnic Identity and Indigenous Populations in the Demographic Sources of the Eastern Baltic Littoral: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Andrejs Plakans

Chapter 16. Who are the British?
John MacInnes

Epilogue: From Indigenous Demographics to an Indigenous Demography
Per Axelsson, Peter Sköld, John P. Ziker and David G. Anderson


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