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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

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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17. Historical Demography in Hungary: A History of Research

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Historical Demography in Hungary: A History of Research

Tamás FARAGÓ1

The Beginnings of Historical Demography in Hungary

The predecessors of historical demographic research were published well before 1880. However, the population history as an independent field of research became more widely accepted only in the 1890s in Hungary. It can be stated in general that the majority of studies published before World War I are obsolete, though the greater part of the source publications are still applicable. Comparing the works of population history in Hungary with the professional standard of contemporary research on the international scene nevertheless we have the impression that they are not much inferior in quality. Although this type of research was started in Hungary a few decades later than in Britain, France or Germany nevertheless the differences look rather quantitative than qualitative. In most of these countries the approach was also different from that of modern demography.

The seemingly idyllic state of population history lasted only for about 30 years and was suddenly ended by World War I. As a consequence of the chaotic situation that emerged at the end of the war and the peace treaties that followed it, the artificial political unity of the Carpathian Basin disintegrated to small states entering into mutual political fights and ethnic societies to get separated from each other, and thus research could never again be independent any more from politics. The so far interwoven source material of the...

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