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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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29. Historical Demography in Portugal (1950−2012)

Extract

Historical Demography in Portugal (1950–2012)

Maria Norberta AMORIM and Paulo Teodoro DE MATOS1

Today as in the past, we insist on how recent Historical Demography is, and on the need to streamline fundaments and consider introducing divides (Amorim 2000, pp. 89–101). We are still hesitant to thin out concepts, without disciplinary application having had the chance to explore their potential, yet there are clear signs of the consequent relationship between Historical Demography and Contemporary Demography, between Historical Demography and other Social Sciences.

We establish that the aim of Historical Demography, like the aim of Demography in the statistical age, is to understand the pace of evolution of populations in light of the interplay among the demographic variables, the two disciplines differing in terms of sources and methodological resources. However, the historian-demographers today, using computer resources and access to specific sources is challenged to address the evolution from the Ancien Regime to the Modern Age, and their work is far from being unimportant despite the existence of credible censuses; it becomes more desirable due to the potential of longitudinal observation of the demographic variables, and the possibility of including these variables in cultural contexts, in the broadest sense.

Although Historical Demography, Family History and Social History are distinguished by the aims they pursue, the methodological work of Historical Demography on common sources, providing databases with the systematic monitoring of life histories, open to be linked up with other sources, is a...

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