Ethno-religious and demographic dynamics in mountainous Eurasia around 1900. A comparison of the Urals and Scandinavia
Supported by Russian Science Foundation, grant No 16-18-10105
In today's global society, ethno-confessional relations and demographic processes are crucial for understanding and promoting the stability and successful development of countries and regions. The study of the ethno-confessional dynamics and demographic processes are particularly important in terms of the socio-economic and political transformation of the society, increasing economic stratification of the population, increasing migration flows connected to search for religious and ethnic identiti. The present period is characterized by dramatic changes caused also by the rapid development of information technology, and the second demographic transition is but one of the most important ongoing changes. The time around 1900 was similarly dynamic, with industrialization as the main driving force, and with the first demographic transition as a pivotal consequence. This project is a logical continuation of existing collective scientific works of historians who study the evolution of the ethnic and religious landscape of the Urals on the one hand and particularly the demographic processes in the Nordic countries on the other. The project’s novelty lies in its orientation towards the study of social processes, involving their ethnic, religious and demographic relationships and conditionality. In Russia, we concentrate on the Urals (the province of Perm in the late XIX; int the early XX the Ural region), while in Scandinavia we focus on the multiethnic areas in the north of Norway and Sweden. In addition to all the obvious differences between these regions, there are a number of similarities, which also had the potential to influence the development of social processes. Among others, we mention similar geology, mountain landscape and climate; the importance of mining industry; multi-ethnic populations with historic roots, including the communities of northern people – in both regions representatives of the Finno-Ugric language family (the Sami and Fins in Scandinavia, the Mansi, Khanty, Komi and Nenets east of the Ural mountains). Religious congregation was the universal form of association among people in the late XIX – early XX centuries. both in Russia and in the Nordic countries. The period was characterized by rapid modernization in large parts of Eurasia, with a huge impact on society in economic, demographic, social and political terms. The goal of our project is to study these demographic and social changes, such as how the dynamics of migration and demography (fertility, nuptiality, mortality) of urban and rural Eurasia led to changes in ethnic and religious composition, and how the latter factors had feedback on the demographic transition. In order to understand the details of these changes, it is necessary to study the ethnic and religious communities as they are mirrored in source material containing information about each of its individual members. Such information, including information about births, marriages, migrations, deaths and their causes, surviving children, life expectancy etc. are available in the census like tax lists and church records. These demographic facts can be directly linked to the ethnic and religious affiliation of each person, and their quantitative and qualitative analysis will reveal patterns of socio-economic and political transformation of the society, welfare, development, migration flows and the search of religious and ethnic identities. The analysis of sources linked to the individual level community is necessary in order to avoid the risk of false statistical results inherent in the so-called "ecological fallacy", a problem which arises when drawing conclusions about smaller groups based on data relating to the society at large. In addition, in contrast to the use of published aggregate data, the method of studying the individual communities at the individual level, makes it possible to analyze the composition of each small ethnic or religious group in the large rural and urban multi-ethnic and multi-confessional community, as these are defined on the basis of our research questions. One of the most promising areas of modern social history is to analyze huge amounts of primary, nominative source materials with cross-sectional and vital event registers of the population (the concept of Big Data) using computer technology. Creating a database based on information from the Perm province population pre-censuses (revizskie skazki) and church registers will greatly expand the research capabilities, in particular to apply semi-automated, longitudinal record linkage, allowing the creation of links between different tables in relational databases in order to track the fate of individuals, families and communities in time and space. This gives opportunity to compare the dynamics of ethno-confessional and demographic processes on the territory of the Urals and Scandinavia and to establish patterns of socio-economic and political transformation of the society, welfare, development, migration flows and other demographic factors in the search of religious and ethnic identity.
The project was running from 2016 to 2018 and is now completed.