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Categories and Contexts

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Categories and Contexts

Anthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography



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Categories and Contexts
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Throughout its history as a social science, demography has been associated with an exclusively quantitative orientation for studying social problems. As a result, demographers tend to analyse population issues scientifically through sets of fixed social categories that are divorced from dynamic relationships and local contexts and processes. This volume questions these fixed categories in two ways. First, it examines the historical and political circumstances in which such categories had their provenance, and, second, it reassesses their uncritical applications over space and time in a diverse range of empirical case studies, encouraging throughout a constructive interdisciplinary dialogue involving anthropologists, demographers, historians, and sociologists. This volume seeks to examine the political complexities that lie at the heart of population studies by focusing on category formation, category use, and category critique. It shows that this takes the form of a dialectic between the needs for clarity of scientific and administrative analysis and the recalcitrant diversity of the social contexts and human processes that generate population change. The critical reflections of each chapter are enriched by meticulous ethnographic fieldwork and historical research drawn from every continent. This volume, therefore, exemplifies a new methodology for research in population studies, one that does not simply accept and re-use the established categories of population science but seeks critically and reflexively to explore, test, and re-evaluate their meanings in diverse contexts. It shows that for demography to realise its full potential it must urgently re-examine and contextualize the social categories used today in population research.

Author Biography

Simon Szreter has been a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge since 1992, and is Reader in History and Public Policy in the Faculty of History at Cambridge. He took History Tripos at Cambridge, completed his PhD with the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure in 1983, and was Research Assistant to Lord (Michael) Young of Dartington at the Institute of Community Studies from 1983 to 1984. In 1984 he was appointed Lecturer in Demographic History at Cambridge University. He is the founding editor of Hania Sholkamy is Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Gender and Women's Studies at the American University in Cairo. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences in 1997. She was Ioma Evans-Pritchard JRF at St Anne's College from 1996 to 1998, and Research Associate at The International Population Council in Cairo. She joined the American University as Assistant Professor of Anthropology in 2000. A. Dharmalingam received a PhD from the Australian National University, was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1994, and joined the Population Studies Centre of the University of Waikato in 1995.
Release date NZ
March 18th, 2004
Edited by A. Dharmalingam Edited by Hania Sholkamy Edited by Simon Szreter
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
numerous tables
Oxford University Press
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