28.11.2019 – State-istics and the nation-state

Erste Sitzung der Reihe “Mesurer le monde/Die Welt vermessen”

Kaat Louckx (Forum Internationale Wissenschaft, Universität Bonn)

State-istics and the nation-state

Statistics are, as the etymology of the term suggests (state-istics), closely related to the construction or administration of the nation-state. This presentation discussed the emergence and development of the nation-state through the study of one of the main instruments, used by states to ’embrace’ their populations, namely population statistics. In particular, this lecture provided a critical analysis of the conceptual and scientific representations of the forms of belonging to the nation-state as produced in the Belgian (Queteletian) censuses from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century. It was argued that the analyses of the interests, techniques and classification schemes of the state-isticians shed light on the inclusion ideals and exclusion mechanisms underlying the Belgian nation-state. These shifting interests and classifications also inform us about the organization and management of the current nation-state.