A World of Populations

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

Heinrich Hartmann
Corinna R. Unger
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    A World of Populations
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-428-1
    Subjects: History, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Introduction. Counting, Constructing, and Controlling Populations: The History of Demography, Population Studies, and Family Planning in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 1-16)
    Corinna R. Unger and Heinrich Hartmann

    “Population,” a topic long considered the exclusive concern of demographers and welfare politicians, has come to the attention of historians in recent years. The reasons for this new interest seem to be anchored in public discussions and societal concerns about contemporary and future demographic developments. For one, many European nations are experiencing a decrease in birth rates at a time when the influx of migrants from African and Asian countries is triggering debates about increasing religious and ethnic heterogeneity, and the social and cultural effects this has on the formerly more homogenous societies. The expectation that climate change will bring...

  5. Part I. Producing Demographic Subjects:: Transnational Discourses
    • 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
      (pp. 19-35)
      Paul Schor

      In a social constructivist perspective, scholars have paid attention to the laws and expert debates on designing and refining census categories and their shifts over time, but have seldom focused on the discrepancies and contradictions that existed—and exist—at any given time between the various actors of a demographic and bureaucratic enquiry such as a national census. There are some anecdotes recounted by census officials or newspapers that focus on the type of “errors” or “mistakes” field agents made, but my perspective here is different: I will treat the various understandings of what the questions, answers and attitudes towards...

    • 2 “Reproduction” as a New Demographic Issue in Interwar Poland
      (pp. 36-57)
      Morgane Labbé

      Since the second half of the nineteenth century the issue of population has been a central concern of nationalism in Europe. In particular, it shaped Polish territorial claims at the end of the century when the population censuses used to produce official, scientific nationality statistics enumerated the Polish population under the sovereignty of the Prussian, Russian and Austrian states. The results were strongly contested by Polish national activists who made further calculations, although based on the same sources, which were more advantageous for the Polish nation. At the end of World War I, when negotiations about the restoration of the...

    • 3 Family Planning—A Rational Choice? The Influence of Systems Approaches, Behavioralism, and Rational Choice Thinking on Mid-Twentieth-Century Family Planning Programs
      (pp. 58-82)
      Corinna R. Unger

      “Overpopulation is a global problem. Communications, transport, and trade have made the world a unit, a single epidemiological universe. Overpopulation in one region or continent is the concern of all others . . . .”¹ What sounds much like a statement from the 1970s was made, perhaps surprisingly, in 1953. Its author was John E. Gordon, a public health specialist at Harvard University who, in the early 1950s, was working on a research project on the possibilities of “family limitation” in India, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Gordon and his colleagues were influential in defining the existence of “overpopulation” on...

    • 4 “Overpopulation” and the Politics of Family Planning in Chile and Peru: Negotiating National Interests and Global Paradigms in a Cold War World
      (pp. 83-107)
      Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney

      In the 1950s, when the first contraceptive pills were tested in Puerto Rico and the United States, demographers, economists, physicians, politicians, and the Catholic Church in the Americas began to discuss the unprecedented options of regulating human reproduction.¹ Some emphasized the revolutionary capability of new birth control technologies that would allow couples, and women, to regulate conception, and effectively control the number and spacing of their children. Others were quick to realize the latent potential of effective technologies that allowed new forms of population management.² Concerns over population dynamics, especially in the developing world, brought together representatives from private foundations,...

    • 5 Revisiting the Early 1970s Commoner-Ehrlich Debate about Population and Environment: Dueling Critiques of Production and Consumption in a Global Age
      (pp. 108-126)
      Thomas Robertson

      Many Americans saw the first Earth Day rallies in 1970 as a celebration of what the United States had in common—its natural heritage—at a time when the nation was bitterly divided about the Vietnam War, race relations, and so much else. If unity did indeed exist on environmental matters at this time (a big assumption), it wouldn’t last for much longer. The 1970s saw debates rage about environmental ideas, as critics on both the left and the right began to think through environmental issues. Indeed, on many issues, even environmentalists themselves disagreed bitterly. One of the key areas...

  6. Part II. Demographic Knowledge in Practice:: Transfers and Transformations
    • 6 Counting People: The Emerging Field of Demography and the Mobilization of the Social Sciences in the Formation of State Policy in South Korea since 1948
      (pp. 129-146)
      John P. DiMoia

      In September 1948, the Rockefeller Foundation sent a team of its leading demographers and population experts to tour large sections of Asia—then still commonly labeled “the Far East” in American parlance—evaluating the region in the aftermath of war.¹ Among the figures present on behalf of the foundation were the team of Marshall Balfour and Roger Evans, along with a second pair of researchers, social scientists Drs. Frank Notestein and Irene Taeuber of Princeton University’s Office of Population Research (OPR). In a preliminary fashion, the foundation was in the midst of considering whether to make major changes to its...

    • 7 Laparoscopy as a Technology of Population Control: A Use-Centered History of Surgical Sterilization
      (pp. 147-177)
      Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

      Bombay gynecologist Pravin Mehta “peered through” the laparoscope, a “stainless-steel probe with a pistol grip and a light source.” He located and grasped a fallopian tube “in the instrument’s crab-like claw and, squeezing a trigger, snapped a plastic ring over the captured tube, making a tight ligature, rather in the manner of a stapler.”¹ When the second tube was similarly ligated, Mehta invitedTimescorrespondent Trevor Fishlock to “look through the laparoscope at his handiwork, at the tube tied neater than a sailor’s reef knot.”² It was May 1981 and the tubes belonged to Manbhar, a thirty-year-old mother of two...

    • 8 A Twofold Discovery of Population: Assessing the Turkish Population by its “Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices,” 1962–1980
      (pp. 178-200)
      Heinrich Hartmann

      Bernard Berelson’s description of Turkey’s situation in 1964 was the result of the first international expertise assessing the prospects of a family planning program in Turkey in the early 1960s. Turkey’s doors were open to international experts and to local Turkish teams. A general state planning policy euphoria ruled the country and as part of it, a concerted population policy seemed to be within reach. In 1978, four years after retiring from the presidency of New York’s Population Council, “Barney” Berelson still classified Turkey as being one of the countries that would probably have a national program in the future,...

    • 9 Seeing Population as a Problem: Influences of the Construction of Population Knowledge on Kenyan Politics (1940s to 1980s)
      (pp. 201-221)
      Maria Dörnemann

      In 1976, a Population Studies and Research Institute (PSRI) was founded at the University of Nairobi. However, unlike what its name suggests, research on population was only one of its tasks and occupations, and the main aim that singles the institution out as unique was defined as “providing [Kenya] with the necessary atmosphere to formulate and implement a comprehensive population policy.”¹ This aim is surprising, because in Kenya, official and government-supported population policies were introduced with a national family planning program in 1967, nine years before the establishment of the PSRI. Therefore, it might be useful to focus on the...

    • 10 Filtering Demography and Biomedical Technologies: Melanesian Nurses and Global Population Concerns
      (pp. 222-242)
      Alexandra Widmer

      One of the most tantalizing aspects of demographic knowledge is its promise for predicting the future of a particular population and providing a basis on which institutions can plan social and economic projects. A related and rather astounding characteristic of demography, notes Michelle Murphy, is the way that “when taking the large aggregate view—the lives of individuals wink out of visibility.”¹ This is all the more troubling, she continues, because the knowledge is used to develop policies and programs that attempt to “alter some of the most intimate and emotion laden aspects of human life”² such as sexuality, fertility,...

  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 243-246)
  8. Index
    (pp. 247-251)