Ana Silvia Volpi Scott

Historical demography in Brazil: a 50 years history and challenges to face

Abstract: Historical demography was introduced in Brazil around half a century ago. Since then, significant literature has been produced, decisively contributing to the understanding of its population’s characteristics, denoted by a deep heterogeneity (ethnic, legal, cultural, religious), as well as a very intense crossbreeding process.  From the 16th to the late 19th century, the presence of slavery was a determining feature of society’s constitution, in addition to the intense population mobility, encouraged by both constant entry of external elements and internal displacements. The studies of historical demography remain fundamental to comprehending the demographic behavior of different groups, as well as have revealed family patterns where the consensual unions and the illegitimacy played decisive roles in the family systems, which are distinguished from those who predominated in most of Europe. In recent years, the challenge of the historian demographers has been to discuss the different demographic regimes which prevailed in the Brazilian past and, in order to contribute to such debate, a large collective project has been developed since the early 2000s. Therefore, the main contributions of Historical Demography for the study of family and population in Brazil will be presented, as well as the challenges which must be faced by the researchers in this field.