Die Vergangene Zukunft Europa

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January 2009:
International conference in Leipzig

For several years we have now been able to observe a great attention to these demographic issues – at least in Germany but increasingly on the European level as well. Behind this public interest, population development problems have already been put on the agenda more than 100 years ago and never been removed since. The nation’s and Europe’s demographic situation is an epistemological mainstay of the modern state in the 20th and 21st century.
An analysis about the development of a population will provide in a concise and even complex manner controversial social and cultural definitions of Europe and the European in past and present. Academics, the public and politicians have been focusing on issues like a nation’s ability for military defense in comparison to its neighbouring nations, the decline in the birth rate and the resulting “missing” subsequent generations, overpopulation, people’s growing life spans, the “aging” of the society and problems of how to deal with migration and migrants.
At the conference, such demographic issues and knowledge orders will be historicised within a wider European context, especially in the transnational dimension of demography, and with a special attention to demographic constructions of Central-Eastern, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe.
— Firstly, the different forms, prefigurations, and substance of European self-definitions, which had historically become apparent within the interplay of local, regional, national, and transnational levels, are to be outlined. Who – according to demographic discourses - had been defined as belonging to (Western or Eastern) Europe, to a nation, to modern industrial states, to the “Western world” etc.? What are the criteria for such attributions, based on what knowledge?. How did demographic knowledge of European populations (or: the population of Europe) become a key element of political interventions?
— Secondly, we call for analyses of demographic debates in a transnational perspective, e.g. on the decline in the birth rate, “aging” or migration, discussing the assumptions of historical reflections and prognoses of social and cultural definitions of Europe. One example of this is the importance of birth rates of EU candidate states for their “EU capability”, seen from a discourse analytical perspective.
— A third topic is an epistemic history of “population”: How is demographic knowledge produced; how are future developments forecast; in which way are such types of knowledge received and anticipated transnationally; how relevant are they for political decisions and in what way are they transformed by practical interventions? Finally, what are the relations between academic debates and popular images and imaginations of the population and its future development?
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September 2011
Petra Overath (Hg.)

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november 2011
Heinrich Hartmann

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february 2012
Maximilian Schochow/Daniel Schmidt

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1 july 2006 - 30 june 2010
Project duration

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Bundministerium für Bildung und Forschung