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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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16. Historical Demography of Greek Populations


Historical Demography of Greek Populations

Violetta HIONIDOU1

Historical demography in Greece starts with Vasilios G. Valaoras, a medical practitioner trained in Athens who worked in the USA, where he also acquired his expertise in demographic methods (Valaoras 1936, 1937). Though he spent long periods in the USA, some of the time working in the Department of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and some at the United Nations Secretariat, he was based at Athens University where, as Director of the Centre of Biometric and Demographic Research, he continued working on contemporary and historical demographic issues. His most cited historical demography publication is that in which he reconstructed the population history of Modern Greece, essentially from 1860 to 1960 (Valaoras 1960). The significance of the paper has been enormous for Greek historical demography: essentially all works, even today, fifty years after its publication, use and cite this paper when they refer to nineteenth and early twentieth century Greece. Despite the very serious problems with the available sources that Valaoras had to face, some of which are acknowledged in his article, and the generous assumptions he was obliged to make in his reconstruction, this remains the most widely used reconstruction of the demographic history of the population of the Modern Greek state (Hionidou 1997a; 2006a). V. Valaoras’ piece provides, even today, the starting point for any demographic piece of work.

Certainly in the 1950s and 1960s it was medical schools where demographic research was produced, some of...

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