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International Seminar on

Kinship and Reproduction in Past Societies

Minneapolis (Minnesota), United States, 22-23 August 2019



This seminar is organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Historical Demography, in collaboration with the Minnesota Population Center and Department of History, University of Minnesota and the Programme de recherche en démographie historique and the Département de démographie, Université de Montréal.

Organizing Committee: J. David Hacker (University of Minnesota), Lisa Dillon (Université de Montréal), Martin Dribe (Lund University).


Download the Call for Papers in pdf. 



Deadline for submissions: 1 March 2019

Research in anthropology and evolutionary demography has emphasized the importance of kin for reproductive success. Grandmothers, and to a lesser extent grandfathers, can help maximize the number of surviving grandchildren through increased fertility of their daughters and improved survival of their grandchildren. Some evolutionary demographers contend that the grandmothers’ post-menopausal contribution for reproductive fitness is an important reason for the long post-reproductive life span of humans. Research in historical demography has also highlighted the important role of kin on fertility and other demographic outcomes, especially in complex-family societies such as East Asia with high levels of intergenerational coresidence. A modest number of studies have also explored the impact of kin on fertility in historical Western societies; however, most research on families in the Western context has focused on the role of socioeconomic and cultural variables and decision making within the nuclear family. Yet coresidence is not necessary for kin influence on fertility behavior. Having grandmothers or other kin alive and living nearby may be just as important as having them in the household, especially if the mechanisms by which kin influence fertility include physical help with childrearing or socialization and transmission of attitudes and behaviors. Recent research has shown strong patterns of intergenerational transmission of fertility in Western contexts during and after the fertility transition, suggesting a major role for kin in adapting to economic change, as well as continuing traditional fertility behaviors or forming innovative new behaviors. 


The aim of this seminar is to bring together researchers from different disciplines studying different historical contexts, with a focus on the role of kin for reproductive outcomes such as fertility or infant and child mortality. The goal is to look at kinship beyond coresidence and present research that make innovative use of new data sources to study proximity outside the immediate household and the different roles played by kin in different contexts. Both empirical studies of historical populations and more theoretical contributions are welcome to promote a discussion across disciplines and contexts. We also look for contributions covering a wide range of historical contexts.


Online Submissions:

The IUSSP Scientific Panel on Historical Demography invites researchers to submit online by 1 March 2019 a short 200-word abstract AND an extended abstract (2 to 4 pages, including tables). To submit an abstract please fill out the online submission form on the IUSSP website: ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM.

Abstracts and papers must be submitted in English, which will be the working language of the meeting. 


The seminar will be limited to about 20 contributed papers. Submissions should be made by the author who will attend the seminar. If the paper is co-authored, please include the names of your co-authors in your submission form (in the appropriate order).


  • Applicants will be informed whether paper is accepted by 31 March 2019.


  • Participants must submit their complete paper by 1 August 2019. 


Current funding for the seminar is limited. Efforts are under way to raise additional funds, but the outcome is at this point uncertain. Participants are therefore encouraged to seek their own funding to cover the cost of their participation in the seminar. If available, funding will be restricted to IUSSP members in good standing and will be contingent upon submission of a complete paper of acceptable quality by the deadline for papers.


For further information, please contact  Seminar Organizer: J. David Hacker (hacker@umn.edu).


IUSSP Scientific Panel on Historical Demography

Chair: Martin Dribe (Lund University, Sweden)

Members: Lisa Dillon (Université de Montréal, Canada), Hao Dong (Peking University, China), J. David Hacker (University of Minnesota, USA), Lionel Kesztenbaum (Institut national d’études démographiques, INED, France), Ana Silvia Volpi Scott (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, UNICAMP, Brazil) and Sarah Walters (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK).