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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Edited By Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIst World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.

Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes take place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience. The thirty-seven articles in the book represent as many different stories.

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12. A History of the Historical Demography of England and Wales


A History of the Historical Demography of England and Wales

Peter M. KITSON1

Certain key traits characterize the history of the historical demography of England and Wales. From its origins in the late seventeenth century, there has been a tendency to treat it as a necessary prerequisite to understand other social and economic phenomena, rather than a category of analysis in its own right. Those scholars who have interested themselves in the historical demography of England have done so from a variety of different academic disciplines, though History and Geography have tended to be the most common. Enquiries into historical population change have often been connected with attempts to understand or justify broader social change, be it the rapid growth of seventeenth-century London, the apparent depopulation of rural England in the eighteenth century or the dramatic transformations associated with the Industrial Revolution.

Three other tendencies can also be identified. Of the components to the basic demographic equation, mortality has been the most studied within the English case. This is perhaps ironic given the primacy that fertility has assumed in understanding the rapid growth of her population over the course of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, research into understanding the dimensions, dynamics and spatial aspect of mortality change have dominated – and to some extent, continue to dominate – the study of English historical demography. Fertility has received less attention, while the characterization of migration as the Cinderella subject of historical demography has achieved the...

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