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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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15. Historical Demography in Germany


Historical Demography in Germany


The aim of this contribution is not to present a comprehensive historiography of demographic research on historical subjects in Germany since the 19th century. Indeed, it is a long story with continuities which have become a domain of specialized studies, which especially focus on the nazi period. It must suffice to refer to published results here (Ehmer et al. 2007, Pinwinkler 2013; 2014). The post-war “population history” (Bevölkerungsgeschichte) which still showed some aspects of the preceding period, has only to be mentioned here as far as it contributes to the understanding of the novelty of historical demography in Germany. Remind that in contrast to other countries its appearance provoked a marked opposition between two different kinds of historical researches in Germany, which was justified with methodological and epistemological arguments, but was essentially an expression of a more or less clearly felt need of disassociation, enforced by the desire of defending an acquired domain on the one hand, of emphasizing the revolutionary aspect on the other. The historical context and a generational difference contributed to this exacerbation.

In Germany such a disposition for a renewal was felt in the historical sciences, not in demography. This may have contributed to the fact that historical demography has stayed until nowadays a domain of historians, with virtually no support by institutions of demographic research. Some shortfalls of the discipline may have their origin there.

Population History before Historical Demography...

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