La Nationalité, une histoire de chiffres
Politique et statistiques en Europe centrale (1848-1919)
Nationality as a matter of numbers
Politics and statistics in central Europe (1848-1919)
When historians consult 19th-century administrative archives, they are often surprised to discover long series of numbers on nationalities, languages, and religions – like a series of portraits of a lost Europe. They may remark at the precision of these records of minorities and note that the meticulous bureaucracy served to protect rights as much as to provide the register of the national and religious minorities that would soon be expelled, assimilated, and persecuted
Drawing on the example of Poland, a land that was then shared between Prussia, Russia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the author demonstrates that the inventory of these populations, the printing of identification cards, the choice of demographic, linguistic, or religious criteria were used to serve more diverse political projects than the historical literature has tended to suggest. In 1919, for example, in an historical about-face, the official demographic statistics of the three annexationist empires, re-appropriated both by the Polish opposition and the experts of the Paris Peace Conference, contributed to the establishment of a new Polish state.