Reconstructing historical lives from demographic data
Project Description

POPLAB (POPulation LAB) is a small research group working under the supervision of Professor Stuart Gietel-Basten at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The key areas of research of the group include developing a policy-based understanding of contemporary population processes and applying a social scientific approach to exploring historical population data.

Professor Gietel-Basten’s research covers the links between population and policy, with a regional focus on Asia. In particular, he is interested in the emergence of low fertility across the region, and the consequences of this in terms of population ageing and growth.

POPLAB is currently working on the development of new projects which use historical data to shed light on contemporary social processes. These include racial, gendered, spatial and social inequalities; intergenerational transmission of poverty; social stratification etc.

Course type
Applicant's Roles

In order to help develop this new, exciting line of research, we are seeking an enthusiastic research assistant intern who is willing to work with us to transcribe historical documents. These documents relate to life-course processes such as birth, marriage, deaths and migration, and provide a fascinating insight into everyday life in the past. Our projects currently explore changes in past populations in the USA, Ghana, Lesotho, Fiji, Hong Kong and other places in the world.

While transcription is at the heart of the internship, we also expect interns to develop an understanding of the context of the project (e.g. by reading and learning more about the cities and countries which they are transcribing data from). If the intern performs well in these tasks, they may also be able to perform analysis of their transcribed data and even write up a full paper on the topic.

Full training will be given. Applicants from all disciplines and years are welcome.

Requirements are:

Attention to detail
Passion for historical data
Basic spreadsheet skills
Willingness to learn and acquire learning on relevant historical contexts
The interview process will involve a short transcription task. From this, successful candidates will be invited to a formal interview.

Applicant's Learning Objectives

Students will develop skills in:

1. appraising, trasncribing and analysing historical documents
2. reading and interpreting historical documents
3. writing and understanding the contexts of historical societies
5. teamwork and communication

Complexity of the project