The Laureate Centre for History & Population is funded by the Australian Research Council and UNSW. It is based in the School of Humanities and Languages at UNSW, Sydney, on the traditional lands of the Bedegal people.

As the planet approaches 8 billion, international debate on population will be ignited again. Population is an urgent and sensitive global concern in a climate-crisis era, from net population growth, to ageing, to low fertility. This project pursues a distinctively regional perspective on how population policies emerged over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and what their present legacies are, especially in a climate-changed world. Applying a ‘multiple modernities’ approach, we will compare Australia, Japan, India and China, analysing highly diverse polities and challenging Europe-outward theses on modernisation and development. 

The aims are: 

To deepen our knowledge of how different population policies were foundational to modern statecraft over the twentieth century

To reassess modern world history by centrally analysing population change and population policy, at national, regional and international levels

To understand how Asia-Pacific population policies informed United Nations’ engagement with population issues, from 1945 to Sustainable Development Goals

To recalibrate our understanding of the political economy canon, through the first dedicated analysis of: a) population and comparative gender analysis; and b) classical political economy on Asia and the Pacific, including T.R. Malthus’s foundational writing, especially on South Asia and East Asia

To analyse the reception and trajectories of Malthusian and Anti-Malthusian thought by Asia-Pacific political leaders as well as thought leaders

To test and substantiate the ‘multiple modernities’ thesis, by analysing population thought and policy in highly distinct polities in the Asia Pacific region. 

All research programs will launch in mid-2021.