The story of Louis
My keynote at the European Historical Demography Conference
On Wednesday, 30 August, I gave a keynote address at the European Historical Demography Conference in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Below is a shortened version of my speech. (Some of the figures have been removed to reduce the size of the post.)
Today, I will make the case for four challenges and opportunities. That 1) new tools have made untapped global demographic data more accessible than only a few years ago, 2) that this data enables historical demographers to tell the stories of those excluded from conventional archival sources, 3) that doing so allows us to bridge the gap between academia and the general public at a time of large societal divisions, and 4) that to continue to foster a deeper understanding of historical interactions we must bridge not only geographic but also disciplinary boundaries.
That is a mouthful, so to simplify – and to practice what I preach – I will tell you a story, the story of Louis.
In August 1687, a young man from the town of Livron in Dauphiné, France bid his father, mother, and sister farewell and set off on a journey. He would never see them again. Louis was around eighteen years old, an illiterate farm labourer, and hoped to find a new life, free from persecution that had become common in his home country.
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