'I cannot recommend this book too highly. Reading The Politics of Population is a most rewarding experience; I learned a lot from it. This book is the product of mature reflection and prodigious research.'
About the Author
Bruce Curtis is a professor of Sociology and of History at Carleton University.
This book is an indispensable resource for academics, students, individuals in Statistics Canada, the Department of Agriculture, history dilettantes or anyone interested in census taking from 1840 (really 1831) to the mid-1870s in Canada.
The first chapter, as well as the last chapter, contain social theory. The rest of the book highlights the political ramifications of a census and how it tries to encapsulate bodies solidified in time and space and how this can act as a tool for authority (see: power/knowledge), although really its main focus just a historical account of events in the aforementioned time frame. As the book emphasizes, censuses are not taken, they are made.
The book discusses census enumeration under three authorities, Walter Crofton, William Hutton and Joseph-Charles Tache (with an accent grav on the 'e').
Before reading this book, familiarity with a de jure, as opposed to a de facto census is required. There is also some knowledge of representation by population needed (as this becomes a key component of the author's argument that censuses have political significance). With these few terms under one's belt, the book reads very easily. It is well researched and academically valuable, but reads easily enough for passive readers to enjoy or those looking for a relatively simple read. The author spells out key issues well and emphasizes key historical dates when required.
Surprisingly, does not discuss Jean Talon or R.H. Coats, nor does it discuss the original censuses that existed prior to the 1840s (some existed as early as the 17th century)...
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