Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Social Work


Sociology, Demography.


Phillips, Lynne,




Most population or demographic research done today about India tends to involve some sort of statistical measurement of Indian characteristics or qualities. As is usually done with an eye to highlighting or isolating what is wrong with India's population so that it can be addressed in the name of development (the prevailing discourse generally focuses on India's economic and overpopulation 'problems'). The presence of an Indian population is, therefore, held paradigmatic in the research; few researchers question prior to their investigation whether the people of Indian actually form a population or not. This is not only true for India. Populations have become a paradigmatic springboard for demographers, so has the tendency to employ statistics as an epistemological optic for viewing and understanding aggregate Indian's behaviour. In this thesis I challenge the solidity of these research paradigms. Indian population is not a scientific fact; neither is the belief that quantification is the best way to describe human activity. Both are social and political constructions, largely carried out by the British Empire with the colonial census. I look at how quantification, enumeration, the utility of national censuses and the idea of 'population' as an object of scientific knowledge were first distilled in Britain and later imported to India, where they each played an integral role in generating perceptions about the existence of a numerically-describable Indian people. Particular attention is paid to the decennial Indian colonial censuses of 1872--1911, with a focus on how each census helped provide a theoretical blueprint for understanding how Indians collectively form an interdependent population.Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2000 .H33. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 40-03, page: 0610. Adviser: Lynne Phillips. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2000.