Emily Merchant

  • Fellowship year:2014-2015
  • University: University of Michigan
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: International and Global
  • Dissertation Title: Predication and Control: Global Population, Population Science and Population Politics in the Twentieth Century.
  • Emily's dissertation considers the interface between science and policy through the history of global population dynamics, demography, and population politics and policy from 1920 to 1984, examining how U.S.-based scholars and policy makers analyzed and intervened in population growth worldwide.  She makes four arguments.  First, demography and population control were important ways for governments, scientists, industry, and philanthropies in the wealthy industrial countries of the global north to understand and manage the poorer global south during the period of decolonization.  Second, non-scientists interests who provided financial support to population science have had considerable influence on the development of the field and the interpretation of demographic scholarship.  Third, demographers have had little control over the collection of population data and the categories used in collection that shape analytic outcomes.  Fourth, population projection models view women as the critical point of intervention to either increase or reduce fertility, and these have contributed to the designation of women in the global south as key to solving the perceived global overpopulation crisis, with technology being preferred over social, economic, or political interventions.