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Numbering the nationalities: ethnic minorities in Norwegian population censuses 1845–1930

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Between 1845 and 1930 the relatively small minority groups in Norway – the Samis and Kvens – were counted in Norwegian censuses on the basis of 'objective' criteria settled by the State's Central Bureau of Statistics. The censuses data supplied a foundation for the repressive policy towards minorities. But in identifying alien nationalities within the Norwegian borders, the census classifications also contributed in shaping the boundaries between the Norwegians and 'the others'. Especially the construction of mixed categories reveals substantial changes in this period. In the last part of the nineteenth century, their categorization was based mostly on language, and the distinctions that were made between Norwegians and minorities were largely cultural. The more pronounced race rhetoric of the interwar period re-shaped the concepts of nationalities and brought about a much greater emphasis on purely genealogical factors.
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Keywords: CENSUS; CLASSIFICATION; ETHNICITY; NATIONALISM; NORWEGIAN MINORITIES; RACE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2002

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