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A World of Populations: Transnational Perspectives on Demography in the Twentieth Century

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A World of Populations

Transnational Perspectives on Demography in the Twentieth Century

Edited by Heinrich Hartmann and Corinna R. Unger

264 pages, 5 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-427-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2014)

ISBN  978-1-78533-351-4 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (November 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-428-1 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…an important step in writing global or transnational histories of demographic ideas and discourses… The volume offers insights into global and local interactions, covers major aspects of global family planning programmes and "overpopulation" debates, as well as contains case studies on the United States, Poland, Chile, South Korea, Turkey, Kenya, and Melanesia.” · H-Soz-Kult

“I learned something new on almost every page of A World of Populations, despite having worked very closely in this field. The case studies herein are surprising and fascinating, offering new geographies and perspectives. This book has made me intrigued and curious about demography and world population all over again.” · Alison Bashford, University of Cambridge, author of Global Population

“Overall, this is a compelling, well-researched set of essays..[that] show us the nuanced, place-specific negotiations between international institutions and experts, national political entities, and local actors… Both the overall picture and the specific stories provided in this text are important contributions to the emerging literature on the history and social studies of demography and population policy.” · Saul Halfon, Virginia Tech


Demographic study and the idea of a “population” was developed and modified over the course of the twentieth century, mirroring the political, social, and cultural situations and aspirations of different societies. This growing field adapted itself to specific policy concerns and was therefore never apolitical, despite the protestations of practitioners that demography was “natural.” Demographics were transformed into public policies that shaped family planning, population growth, medical practice, and environmental conservation. While covering a variety of regions and time periods, the essays in this book share an interest in the transnational dynamics of emerging demographic discourses and practices. Together, they present a global picture of the history of demographic knowledge.

Heinrich Hartmann is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Basel, Switzerland. His book, Der Volkskörper bei der Musterung. Militärstatistik und Demographie in Europa vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg (Wallstein 2011) received the Henry E. Sigerist Award in 2012. His research focuses on the history of nineteenth and twentieth century demography in Europe and on the history of Turkish modernization in a transnational perspective.

Corinna R. Unger is Professor of Global and Colonial History (19th and 20th centuries) at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present Sociology


List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Counting, Constructing, and Controlling Populations: The History of Demography, Population Studies, and Family Planning in the Twentieth Century
Corinna R. Unger and Heinrich Hartmann

Part I: Producing Demographic Subjects: Transnational Discourses

Chapter 1. The View From Below and the View From Above: What U.S. Census-taking Reveals about Social Representations in the Era of Jim Crow and Immigration Restriction
Paul Schor

Chapter 2. “Reproduction” as a New Demographic Issue in Interwar Poland
Morgane Labbé

Chapter 3. Family Planning: A Rational Choice? The Influence of Systems Approaches, Behavioralism, and Rational Choice Thinking on Mid-Twentieth Century Family Planning Programs
Corinna R. Unger

Chapter 4. “Overpopulation” and the Politics of Family Planning in Chile and Peru: Negotiating National Interests and Global Paradigms in a Cold War World
Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney

Chapter 5. Revisiting the Early 1970s Commoner-Ehrlich Debate about Population and Environment: Dueling Critiques of Production and Consumption in a Global Age
Thomas Robertson

Part II: Demographic Knowledge in Practice: Transfers and Transformations

Chapter 6. “Counting People”: The Emerging Field of Demography and the Mobilization of the Social Sciences in the Formation of Policy, South Korea since 1948
John Paul DiMoia

Chapter 7. Laparoscopy as a Technology of Population Control: A Use-Centered History of Surgical Sterilization
Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

Chapter 8. A Twofold Discovery of Population: Assessing the Turkish Population by its “Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices”, 1962-1980
Heinrich Hartmann

Chapter 9. Seeing Population as a Problem: Influences of the Construction of Population Knowledge on Kenyan Politics (1940s to 1980s)
Maria Dörnemann

Chapter 10. Filtering Demography and Biomedical Technologies: Melanesian Nurses and Global Population Concerns
Alexandra Widmer


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