Radboud Group in Taiwan

Date of news: 30 October 2019

This week members of the Radboud group can be found in Taipei (Taiwan) to explore new possibilities for cooperation.

Since it initiation in 1996, the Program for Historical Demography at Academia Sinica has successfully gathered and digitalized the Japanese historical household registers into the Taiwan Historical Household Register Database. It provides one of the most detailed and reliable ways to study a historical population in Asia, and maybe even in the world. Moreover, the program provides a platform for the world’s leading scholars to meet and discuss research on the population of Taiwan during the Japanese era. The program has always focused on international collaboration and continues to do so until this day. For instance, an influential project, not only for the Program for Historical Demography, but for historical population research community in general, started when the ‘Population and Society in Taiwan and the Netherlands’ was set up under the guidance of Professor Arthur P. Wolf (Stanford University), Professor Ying-Chang Chuang (Academia Sinica) and Theo Engelen (Radboud University). As well as producing several articles in international peer-reviewed journals, this project resulted in the influential book series Life at the Extremes: the demography of Europe and China. These publications are devoted to systematic comparisons of nuptiality, fertility and mortality behavior between Europe and Asia, and are considered to be must-reads for everybody who is interested in Eurasian historical demography.

During the NWO-MOST Joint Seminar ‘Life at the Extremes 2.0: A new research agenda for studying historical life courses in the Netherlands and Taiwan’ new research directions in comparative population history were explored. Population history is an essential ingredient of all research into sustainable economic growth, the emergence and direction of migration flows, and societal changes affected by such phenomena as ageing and changing attitudes towards marriage and childbearing. It requires a thorough understanding of the interaction between decisions at the level of individuals and families, and (changing) norms, constraints and opportunities at the societal level. One of the most fruitful approaches to understanding this complex micro-macro interaction is comparative demographic history. Through controlled comparisons, one can discern the relative importance of cultural norms and ecological and economic conditions on demographic behaviour. To be able to continue on earlier research efforts, the creation of collectively created research agenda is the primary goal of this seminar in order to identify the objectives for solving many of the remaining scientific puzzles.

This seminar was not possible without collaboration of the Dutch Research Council (NWO), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Centres for Social Science and Humanities and the Institute for Sociology of Academia Sinica, and the Radboud Group for Historical Demography and Family History.

The full programme can be found here (pdf, 15 MB).