Migration in discourses on population dynamics

This course is part of the programme
Doctoral study programme Humanities

Objectives and competences

The course aims to place a student in an intermediate, central position among various interpretations, understandings and practices of migration, considering both the national and the global population picture. Lectures, seminars and group discussions aim to make students sensitive to recognising the problematic themes of migration studies; they also aim to empower the student to critically respond to theories and case studies by means of the conceptual tools studied during the course.


Students will be required to regularly attend the course (75% attendance) and actively participate in lectures (taking part in discussions, reading relevant literature during the course, and giving at least one oral presentation of approx. 15–20 min). At the end of lectures and seminars, students will be asked to submit their final paper (20 pages). Students are expected to have a good background knowledge from the various disciplines in the fields of humanities and social sciences.
Particular attention will be given to social and cultural theories which from sociological, anthropological, historical and cultural viewpoints consider the issue of migration in discourses on population dynamics. Students are expected to have a good command of English.


Students will obtain knowledge on migration through debates (theories) on population dynamics. Demography as a rule interprets births, deaths and migration as vital events, which can be measured, classified and compared on a global level. However, such predominantly decontextualized statistical interpretations are insufficient when ‘vital events’ are discussed in intertwined social and cultural processes. ‘Alternative demographies’ with their particular epistemology and methodology contribute a new insight into and an interpretation of studying population dynamics, especially migration. During the course, students will study the approaches of anthropological demography and demographic anthropology – the sub-disciplines that have been established at the crossing of anthropology and demography.
Initially, students will be introduced to a theoretical framework that places migration in the concept of population dynamics, with a particular reference to the first, second and third demographic transition theories. Through the concept of national population, a special emphasis will be given to discussing public (professional and media) rhetoric on the ‘demographic crisis,’ as a result of the simultaneous processes of low fertility, population ageing and increased immigration. Selected ethnographies, placed on the migration-fertility nexus, will form a basis for a discussion of the ‘tangible’ case studies that offer a ground for conceptualizing, studying and interpreting the issues of the course.

Intended learning outcomes

Through active participation during the lectures and seminars (oral presentations, written reflections, and the final exam paper), students will obtain:
 knowledge of the socio-historical context of studying population dynamics with an emphasis on migration;
 knowledge of the prevalent concepts and explanatory models of radical demographic changes, particularly theories of the first and second demographic transition;
 knowledge of contemporary scientific discussions on advantages/limitations of various disciplinary approaches of studying migration (anthropological and demographic approaches, or ‘alternative demographies’);
 knowledge of case studies and ethnographies which connect migration issues to other contemporary demographic processes, low fertility in particular;
 ability to independently carry out a research task that refers to the problem fields studied during the course.


  • Douglass, Carrie B. et al. (2005). Introduction. In: C. B. Douglass (ed.). Barren States: The Population »Implosion« in Europe, Oxford and New York: Berg, pp. 1–28. Catalogue E-version
  • Teitelbaum, Michael S. and Jay Winter (1998). A Question of Numbers: High Migration, Low Fertility, and the Politics of National Identity, New York: Hill and Wang. (Selected parts of the monograph: Introduction, pp. 3–8; Transnational issues, pp. 195–239). Catalogue E-version
  • Krause, L. Elizabeth (2001). »Empty Cradles« and the Quiet Revolution: Demographic Discourse and Cultural Struggles of Gender, Race and Class in Italy, Cultural Anthropology 16/4, pp. 576 – 611. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/can.2001.16.4.576 E-version
  • Marx Ferree, Myra and Autumn Brown, Jessica (2005). Close your eyes and think of England: Pronatalism in the British Print Media, Gender and Society 19/1, pp. 5–24. Available at: E-version
  • Camiscioli, Elisa (2001). Producing Citizens, Reproducing the »French Race«: Immigration, Demography, and Pronatalism in Early twentieth-Century France. Gender & History 13/3, pp. 593–621. E-version
  • Stoilkova, Maria (2005). A Quest for Belonging. The Bulgarian Demographic Crisis, Emigration and the Postsocialist Generations. In: C. B. Douglass (ed.). Barren States: The Population »Implosion« in Europe, Oxford and New York: Berg, pp. 115–136. Catalogue E-version
  • Yuval Davis, Nira (1989). National reproduction and the »demographic race« in Israel. In: N. Yuval Davis (ed.) and F. Anthias (ed.). Women-nation-state, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, pp. 92–109. E-version
  • Bledsoe, Caroline, René Houle, Sow Papa (2007). High fertility Gambians in low fertility Spain: The dynamics of child accumulation across transnational space. Demographic Research, 16 (12): 375–411. E-version


• final paper (20 pages) - 60% of the final grade; • active participation with an oral presentation = 40% of the final grade

Lecturer's references

Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Obrazi migracij v govoru o rodnosti (Faces of Migration Through the Talk About Fertility). Dve domovini, [Printed ed.], 2011, 33: 7–22.
Knežević Hočevar, Duška, Cukut Krilić, Sanja, Černič Istenič, Majda. Intercultural dialogue between lip service and practice. Dve domovini, [Printed ed.], 2009, 30: 29–49.
Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Antropološka demografija: spodletela združitev antropologije in demografije? (Anthropological Demography: A Failed Merger of Anthropology and Demography?). Glasnik Slovenskega etnološkega društva, 2008, 48 (½): 5–12.
Černič Istenič, Majda, Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Ali so stališča prebivalcev evropskih držav do priseljencev povezana s stališči, ki se nanašajo na odnose med spoloma, rodnostno vedenje in vrednotenje otrok? (Are the Attitudes of Europeans Towards Immigrants Related to Their Attitudes Towards Gender Roles, Fertility Behaviour and the Meaning of Children?). Dve domovini, [Printed ed.], 2006, 24: 21–46.
Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Rodnost, etničnost in nacija : razmisleki o preučevanju demografskih značilnosti nacionalnih populacij (Fertility, Ethnicity and Nation: Some Reflections on the Study of Demographic Characteristics of National Populations). In: 80 let Inštituta za narodnostna vprašanja: Izzivi raziskovanja etničnosti in manjšin na začetku 21. stoletja, (Razprave in gradivo - Treatises and Documents). Ljubljana: Inštitut za narodnostna vprašanja, 2006, 50/51: 184–210, http://www.inv.si.
Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Vanishing nation: discussing nation's reproduction in post-socialist Slovenia. The Anthropology of East Europe Review, Fall 2004, 22(2): 22–30, graphics.
Knežević Hočevar, Duška. Idejno ozadje esencialističnih predstav o rodnosti v treh primerih presoj nacionalne populacije (The Ideational Background of Essentialist Notions on Fertility: Three Cases). Družboslovne razprave, [Printed ed.], Aug. 2003, 19(43): 29–46, http://dk.fdv.uni-lj.si/dr/dr43KnezevicHocevar.PDF.