• Migration Statistics and the Making of an International Point of View in the Interwar Period

    In the first week of October 1932, an International Conference on Migration Statistics was held in Geneva. Over the course of five days, some thirty statisticians from twenty-six countries discussed how to produce more reliable international migration statistics. This kind of methodological discussion about statistical standardization was not at all unusual in the new world of international organization. Since 1920, the standardization of statistics had become an ordinary activity in the “Palace” of the International Labour Organization and the League of Nations in the hills above Lake Geneva.

    The International Conference on Migration Statistics offers particularly interesting insights into the historical attempt by international organizations to measure the world. On the one hand, “international migration” was not yet a category in scholarship and policy making. It was an international invention intended to bring together the existing categories of “emigration” and “immigration.” Before this time, these last two categories were perceived as two fundamentally separate phenomena. Perhaps more plainly than other objects targeted by statistical analysis, “international migration” was connected to the effort to construct a new international understanding of the world after the Great War.

    On the other hand, the discussions among the statisticians at the conference also revealed barriers to and complications for the creation of an international consensus on the subject under consideration. The biggest problem was that the statistical object “international migration” touched on delicate political questions concerning the significance of territories, borders, and belonging in a world organized substantially along colonial lines whose legitimacy faced increasingly serious opposition. Focusing not only on the statistical knowledge itself but also on the context in which it was produced, the discussion of statistical problems in Geneva in 1932 manifested contemporary international political tensions and genuine ambivalence about the role of international organizations and their new international point of view.

    #migrations #statistiques #histoire #chiffres #monde #ILO #organisations_internationales #statistiques_historiques #BIT
    cc @reka @simplicissimus

    • The statistical construction of alterity: Governing national population by numbers in France and Germany (1860-1900)

      This paper is aimed to contribute to the history of statistics as science but also as governing tool (Foucault 2004). It 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 produce 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 19th century 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.

      #Allemagne #France #catégorisation #altérité #classification