Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Census/Demographics, Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-01-22 02:00Z by Steven

Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses

Cambridge University Press
January 2002
224 pages
Dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9780521004275
Hardback ISBN: 9780521808231
eBook ISBN: 9780511029325
DOI: 10.2277/0521004276

Edited by:

David I. Kertzer, Dupee University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology & Italian Studies
Brown University

Dominique Arel, Professor of Political Science
University of Ottawa

This study examines the ways that states have attempted to pigeon-hole the people within their boundaries into racial, ethnic, and language categories. These attempts, whether through American efforts to divide the U.S. population into mutually exclusive racial categories, or through the Soviet system of inscribing nationality categories on internal passports, have important implications not only for people’s own identities and life chances, but for national political and social processes as well. The book reviews the history of these categorizing efforts by the state, offers a theoretical context for examining them, and illustrates the case with studies from a range of countries.


  • The first in a new series that specifically addresses the needs of the student
  • Focuses on the charged topic of efforts to categorize individuals into racial and ethnic categories in the national census
  • Highly integrated volume with extensive introductory chapter that helps define a new field

Table of Contents

  1. Censuses, identity formation, and the struggle for political power David I. Kertzer and Dominique Arel
  2. Racial categorization in censuses Melissa Nobles
  3. Ethnic categorization in censuses: comparative observations from Israel, Canada, and the United States Calvin Goldscheider
  4. Language categories in censuses: backward- or forward-looking? Dominique Arel
  5. The debate on resisting identity categorization in France Alain Blum
  6. On counting, categorizing, and violence in Burundi and Rwanda Peter Uvin
  7. Identity counts: the Soviet legacy and the census in Uzbekistan David Abramson.
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