The Statistical Construction of Alterity: Governing National Population By Numbers in France and Germany (1860-1900)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:45 PM
Room: Booth 49
Oral Presentation
Léa RENARD , Sociology of Gender, University of Potsdam, Germany
This paper is aimed to contribute to the history of statistics as science but also as governing tool (Foucault 2004). This abstract explores the role of official statistics in the nation building process in the second part of the 19th century in France and Germany. Following the analyses of Desrosières and Foucault the study asks how science produced “imagined communities” (Anderson 1983) by using and constructing statistical categories on migration. By doing that official statistics contributed to product differentiations between national and foreign populations, which both aim to be governed differently.

In the first step I will argue that the historical development of official statistics in the 19thcentury in France and Germany led to its use in both countries as a governing tool to administrate population, but in different national ways. In the second step the paper recontextualizes and deconstructs the statistical categories of foreigners and citizens, to show how official statistics took part in the historical process of nation building.

Scientific journals (Journal de la Société de Statistique de Paris, Zeitschrift des königlich preussischen statistischen Bureaus and Allgemeines Statistisches Archiv) between 1860 and 1900 form the empirical basis of the study. About 160 articles on migration statistics have been qualitatively analysed in order to sketch the statistical discourse about migration as well as the discursive construction of German and French nations by statisticians.

The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Scientific Commission of the IEP Grenoble, the Doctoral School SHPT of the University of Grenoble and the Potsdam Graduate School.