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John P. Ziker and David G. Anderson

This special issue of Sibirica features a selection of recent research on the demography of Siberians with a special emphasis on what Russian scholars call the etnodemografiia of the “sparse” (malochislennye) peoples of Siberia. Demographic analysis has occupied a privileged place in the study of Siberia serving interests that go well beyond the tallying of souls that one usually associates with this exercise. The very first Imperial-era surveys of Siberia, aside from providing a description of the geography, described the character and qualities of the people encountered (Castrén 1853–1858; Fisher 1774; Georgi 1799; Middendorf 1860–1869). Early scholars of Siberian peoples thought that they needed to understand both the size and social structure of local societies in order to tax them efficiently. Early registers of indigenous peoples in the seventeenth century tended to focus on the numbers of male hunters likely to provision the furs coveted by the Russian state (Bakhrushin 1955). However, by a very early date in the nineteenth century, the Russian state created regular tribute quotas matched to the “level of civilization” of specific nations (Raeff 1956). By contrast, what one today might recognize as a modern type of population survey based on the interviews of individual men and women came relatively late with the 1897 All-Russian Census and arguably was only implemented completely for the first time with the Soviet population census of 1926. The latter census incorporated an especially intensive survey of the “polar” and indigenous (tuzemnoe) population (Anderson 2006). The state curiosity in the populousness and professional structure of all of the discrete peoples in Russia continued as a constant concern throughout the Soviet period, and with a brief post- Soviet hiatus, is continuing in the Russian Federation. How can these three hundred years of surveying be best understood?

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Hania Sholkamy

This article discusses the current confusion surrounding qualitative methods in demographic and health research that prevails amongst young researchers in Arab countries. It presents the author’s reflections on years of train- ing researchers from the region in qualitative methods and the frustrations of differentiating between qualitative methods, qualitative methodology and anthropology in the midst of rising demands to produce a critical Arab social science.

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Stefan Heiland, Silke Spielmans and Bernd Demuth

The article examines the relevance of demographic change for the development of rural landscapes, especially in Germany's shrinking regions. To date, no empirical investigations have undertaken the matter. Thus, the article is mainly based on literature analysis and the findings of expert workshops. The research indicates that demographic change does not have as strong impact on landscapes as other factors such as agricultural policy, climate change, and the promotion of renewable energies. Nonetheless, from the perspective of nature conservation, there might be some indirect effects caused by structural and institutional changes of administrations, which could lead to a decline in importance of landscape-related concerns. In addition, changes in environmental consciousness due to rising cultural diversity could lead to a different societal attitude toward landscapes and their values.

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Ian S. Lustick

As a state founded on Jewish immigration and the absorption of immigration, what are the ideological and political implications for Israel of a zero or negative migration balance? By closely examining data on immigration and emigration, trends with regard to the migration balance are established. This article pays particular attention to the ways in which Israelis from different political perspectives have portrayed the question of the migration balance and to the relationship between a declining migration balance and the re-emergence of the “demographic problem“ as a political, cultural, and psychological reality of enormous resonance for Jewish Israelis. Conclusions are drawn about the relationship between Israel's anxious re-engagement with the demographic problem and its responses to Iran's nuclear program, the unintended consequences of encouraging programs of “flexible aliyah,“ and the intense debate over the conversion of non-Jewish non-Arab Israelis.

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A Booming City in the Far North

Demographic and Migration Dynamics of Yakutsk, Russia

Svetlana Sukneva and Marlene Laruelle

Many cities of Russia’s Far North face a massive population decline, with the exception of those based on oil and gas extraction in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. Yet, there is one more exception to that trend: the city of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, whose population is booming, having grown from 186,000 in 1989 to 338,000 in 2018, This unique demographic dynamism is founded on the massive exodus of the ethnic Yakut population from rural parts of the republic to the capital city, a process that has reshaped the urban cultural landscape, making Yakutsk a genuine indigenous regional capital, the only one of its kind in the Russian Far North.

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Iurii P. Shabaev

Using recent sociological and demographic data, this article reviews the vibrancy of several ethnic minority groups in the European North of Russia. The article is framed in terms of three paradoxes. The first paradox is that the group thought to be the most vulnerable—the Samis of the Kola peninsula—have the strongest ability to preserve their identity. The second paradox is that the process of de-ethnicization, which refers to the assimilative pressure of urban settings, continues despite institutional structures designed to prevent it. The final paradox is that ethnic revival can be identified in unexpected places relatively independent of the structural factors of language and birthrate that are traditionally associated with ethnic reproduction.

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The Biologically Vulnerable Boy

Framing Sex Differences in Childhood Infectious Disease Mortality

Heather T. Battles

Demographers have noticed longer adult female life expectancies and higher rates of male infant mortality in Europe as early as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the Western demographic and epidemiologic transition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, infant and childhood mortality rates became increasingly male-skewed. I examine the changing awareness and understanding of sex differentials in childhood infectious disease mortality and the discourse surrounding them in the medical and epidemiological literature, with particular focus on discussions surrounding diphtheria. I identify the emergence of the concept of males as the weaker sex (the “biological hypothesis”) and the framing of boys as biologically vulnerable, and argue that these are products of this historical period, linked not only to observed epidemiological patterns but also to changing ideas of children and childhood and the shift in science and medicine toward the laboratory as the source of knowledge.

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The Socio-Demographic Situation in the Republic of Tuva

Conditions of Social Transformation, 1990s–early 2000s

Zoya Dorzhu

Based on a comprehensive analysis of census data, this article examines social and demographic development in one of the youngest regions of Russian Federation, the Republic of Tuva, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The given statistics provide the characteristics of the quantitative and qualitative changes in the population, and the socioeconomic conditionality and the laws of its reproduction are analyzed in order to reveal various issues in the implementation of social policy in modern Russia and its regions.

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Svetlana A. Sukneva and Anastasiia S. Barashkova

This article presents the particularities of the formation and development of the population in the Russian northeast. It demonstrates that the negative balance of migration and natural growth reduction has become a key reason for the depopulation of the region, and a direct correlation has been established between fertility and mortality and the age structure of the population. The article also shows that the main trends with regard to marriage reflect the trends observed in the course of demographic processes; the deterioration of the marital status among the indigenous peoples of northeastern Russia is attributed to the narrowness of the marriage market.

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Andrew A. Gentes

This article presents a first step towards creation of a demographic analysis of Siberia's exilic population during the nineteenth century. The article makes the argument that traditional Russian attitudes towards children were reflected on a macroscopic scale in the state's treatment of the children of criminals and other deviants deported and exiled to Siberia and the Russian Far East. The article uses a statistical approach as well as anecdotal materials to suggest some of the possible impacts the deportation of tens of thousands of children had on the later history of Russia.