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Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth
Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth
Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth
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Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth

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Concern about the size of the world's population did not begin with the Baby Boomers. Overpopulation as a conceptual problem originated after World War I and was understood as an issue with far-reaching ecological, agricultural, economic, and geopolitical consequences. This study traces the idea of a world population problem as it developed from the 1920s through the 1950s, long before the late-1960s notion of a postwar "population bomb." Drawing on international conference transcripts and oral testimony, the volume reconstructs the twentieth-century discourse on population as an international issue concerned with migration, colonial expansion, sovereignty, and globalization. It connects the genealogy of population discourse to the rise of economically and demographically defined global regions, the characterization of "civilizations" with different standards of living, global attitudes toward "development," and first- and third-world designations.

Data di uscita11 feb 2014
Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth
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    Global Population - Alison Bashford


    Columbia Studies in International and Global History


    Matthew Connelly and Adam McKeown, Series Editors

    The idea of globalization has become a commonplace, but we lack good histories that can explain the transnational and global processes that have shaped the contemporary world. Columbia Studies in International and Global History will encourage serious scholarship on international and global history with an eye to explaining the origins of the contemporary era. Grounded in empirical research, the titles in the series will also transcend the usual area boundaries and will address questions of how history can help us understand contemporary problems, including poverty, inequality, power, political violence, and accountability beyond the nation-state.

    Cemil Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought

    Adam M. McKeown, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders

    Patrick Manning, The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture

    James Rodger Fleming, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

    Steven Bryan, The Gold Standard at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Rising Powers, Global Money, and the Age of Empire

    Heonik Kwon, The Other Cold War

    Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, eds., Global Intellectual History

    Global Population


    Alison Bashford

    Columbia University Press

    New York

    Columbia University Press

    Publishers Since 1893

    New York   Chichester, West Sussex


    Copyright © 2014 Columbia University Press

    All rights reserved

    E-ISBN 978-0-231-51952-6

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Bashford, Alison, 1963–

    Global population : history, geopolitics, and life on earth / Alison Bashford.

    pages cm. — (Columbia studies in international and global history)

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 978-0-231-14766-8 (cloth : alk. paper)

    ISBN 978-0-231-51952-6 (e-book)

    1. Population—Social aspects. 2. Population—Economic aspects. 3. Population—History. I. Title.

    A Columbia University Press E-book.

    CUP would be pleased to hear about your reading experience with this e-book at cup-ebook@columbia.edu.

    COVER IMAGE: David Malan © Getty Images

    COVER DESIGN: Milenda Nan Ok Lee

    References to Web sites (URLs) were accurate at the time of writing. Neither the author nor Columbia University Press is responsible for URLs that may have expired or changed since the manuscript was prepared.

    For O. and T.

    And for N, M, B, and A



    Introduction: Life and Earth

    PART I  The Long Nineteenth Century

    1   Confined in Room: A Spatial History of Malthusianism

    PART II  The Politics of Earth, 1920s and 1930s

    2   War and Peace: Population, Territory, and Living Space

    3   Density: Universes with Definite Limits

    4   Migration: World Population and the Global Color Line

    5   Waste Lands: Sovereignty and the Anticolonial History of World Population

    PART III  The Politics of Life, 1920s and 1930s

    6   Life on Earth: Ecology and the Cosmopolitics of Population

    7   Soil and Food: Agriculture and the Fertility of the Earth

    8   Sex: The Geopolitics of Birth Control

    9   The Species: Human Difference and Global Eugenics

    PART IV  Between One World and Three Worlds, 1940s to 1968

    10   Food and Freedom: A New World of Plenty?

    11   Life and Death: The Biopolitical Solution to a Geopolitical Problem

    12   Universal Rights? Population Control and the Powers of Reproductive Freedom

    Conclusion: The Population Bomb in the Space Age


    Archival Collections



    Big projects can sometimes start with a single folio, in a single archive box, in an instant. It seems twenty years ago, but I think it was only ten, when I opened one of the Eugenics Society Papers boxes at the Wellcome Library, London. Narrow patriotism must go and one must become ‘planet-conscious’, one eugenics leader had written to another in 1954. The planet trumping the nation? And for one of the twentieth century’s most fatally nationalist endeavors? It made little sense to me at the time, and if one cannot satisfactorily explain such a statement, especially if it is directly in one’s own field, chances are the next project has arrived. Fiction writers talk about characters taking over; historians sometimes have no real choice either.

    This eugenicist’s planet consciousness came out of the archive box at a rich moment for historians. This was just when imperial and colonial history was meeting world history, global history, and environmental history. The scholarly context made planet-level talk immediately intriguing. All the more so given my pre-existing questions about population derived from medical history and feminist history: the intellectual allure was irresistible. On an early research trip to Geneva, when the League of Nations card records were still arranged by the League’s original organizational sections, I searched for population init