Léa Renard | Associated Researcher

Dynamics and Experiences of Globalisation
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: renard  ( at )  cmb.hu-berlin.de Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700

Home Institution : Freie Universität Berlin | Disciplines : Political Science , Sociology |


  • Seit Januar 2020: Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im DFG-Projekt "Der globale Wandel der Kategorie ‚Zwangsarbeit‘", Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Juni 2018-Dezember 2019: Forschungsassistentin am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
  • Oktober 2013-April 2019: Bi-nationales Promotionsprojekt (Cotutelle-de-thèse) an der Universität Potsdam und der Universität Grenoble Alpes (Frankreich)
    Dissertation: „Socio-histoire de l'observation statistique de l'altérité : Principes de classification coloniale, nationale et migratoire en France et en Allemagne (1880-2010)“ (summa cum laude)
  • Juni 2013: MA-Abschluss in Politikwissenschaft, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble
    Schwerpunkt: „Sciences de gouvernement (Regierungswissenschaften) im Vergleich“
    Masterarbeit: „Gouverner la population nationale par les chiffres: Socio-histoire de la statistique des migrations en France et en Allemagne au XIXe siècle (1860-1899)“
  • WS 2011-2012: ERASMUS Semester an der Universität Innsbruck, Österreich
  • Juni 2011: BA-Abschluss in Soziologie, Universität Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble II
  • Juli 2011: BA-Abschluss in Politikwissenschaft, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble
    Schwerpunkt: Politik

CV File

  • 1.10.-30.11.2017: Centre Marc Bloch, Abschlussstipendium
  • 01.03.-31.08.2015: ExploRA Doc (Région Rhone-Alpes), Mobilitätsstipendium
  • 1.04.-30.06.2014: CIERA, Mobilitätsstipendium

Title of thesis

A socio-histoire of the statistical construction of otherness: Colonial, national and migratory classification principles in France and Germany (1880-2010)

Summary of thesis

Around 1990 in France and 2005 in Germany, two new categories were introduced in the field of population statistics. Both “immigré” and “Person mit Migrationshintergrund” use the semantics of migration to describe a population group. My analysis shows that these two events reveal a shift in the meaning associated to migration in statistical categories in both countries. The meaning of the category changes from a mere description of mobility to the ascription of otherness within a population, a change linked to the so-called integration policy that is developing in France and Germany in the years 1990-2000. The analysis reveals the way in which statistics make migration socially relevant to the construction of otherness. The thesis thus develops a renewed approach to the interactions between statistical observation and public policy, by empirically testing the hypothesis of the “circularity of knowledge and action” developed by Alain Desrosières. These shifts in statistical nomenclatures can only be understood if we adopt a long-term perspective. It is necessary to look at the history of statistics and to compare how populations have been classified differently over time in order to understand the new categories invented at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. We therefore question the genesis and institutionalization of the categories of otherness and mobility in the period 1880-1914, during the formation of France and the German Kaiserreich as nation states and colonial empires. To observe these processes empirically, we chose to compare the practices of categorization of otherness and mobility (1) in France and Germany, (2) at two different time periods, 1880-1914 and 1990-2010, and (3) in the metropolitan as well as colonial context. The analytical foci in both periods are slightly different. For 1990-2010, the aim was to reconstruct the genesis of the categories “immigré” and “Person mit Migrationshintergrund”, whereas the analysis of the period 1880-1914 consists of uncovering historical ruptures and continuities in the classification principles over the entire period. The approach is neither symmetrical, nor chronological: it contrasts two historical configurations in an attempt to identify similarities and differences. Our results show that between 1880 and 1914, migration as a category was mostly associated with a mobility phenomenon in political and statistical discourse. At that time, the focus was on emigration, redefined as a geographical outward movement, i.e. people leaving the borders of the nation and the Empire. The transport of “emigrants”, a category of population that fueled public debate and statistical tables, was constructed as a political problem. Statistics on emigration were then separated from the observation of the composition of the population. In the metropolitan context, this happened through the introduction of the criterion of nationality and in the colonial context through “racial” patterns. In 1990 in France and 2005 in Germany, migration semantics were then used to statistically observe the composition of the population. Our results reveal three principles along which the construction of otherness takes place in the two countries and in the two time periods studied: a national principle, a colonial principle and a migratory principle. These findings remind us that statistics are never neutral but always steeped in their socio historical and political context – an important aspect to remember especially in times when migration policies are again a topic high on the agenda of public debates and policy makers.


Theresa Wobbe (Universität Potsdam) - Martine Kaluszynski (Sciences Po Grenoble, PACTE-CNRS)


Forced labour as a shifting global category: classification, comparison and meanings of work in the International Labour Organization (ILO), 1919 – 2017



Isabelle Berrebi-Hoffmann, Olivier Giraud, Léa Renard und Theresa Wobbe (Hg.) (2019), Categories in Context. Gender and Work in France and Germany, 1900-Present, New York: Berghahn Books.

Léa Renard (2019): The Grey Zones Between Work and Non-work: Statistical and Social Placing of ‘Family Workers’ in Germany (1880 – 2010), in:Isabelle Berrebi-Hoffmann, Olivier Giraud, Léa Renard und Theresa Wobbe (Hg.), Categories in Context. Gender and Work in France and Germany, 1900-Present, New York: Berghahn Books, S. 40-59.

Theresa Wobbe, Maike Bussmann, Carolin Höroldt und Léa Renard (2019): ‘The Family’s Economic Charm’. Recent Reclassifications of Maternity, Employment, and Family in German Policy from a Historical-Sociological Perspective, 1900-2010, in: Isabelle Berrebi-Hoffmann, Olivier Giraud, Léa Renard und Theresa Wobbe (Hg.), Categories in Context. Gender and Work in France and Germany, 1900-Present, New York: Berghahn Books, S. 196-222.

Léa Renard (2018): Mit den Augen der Statistiker: Deutsche Kategorisierungspraktiken von Migration im historischen Wandel, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen, Jg. 15, Heft 3 (Sonderheft zu Flucht als Handlungszusammenhang, Hg. von Bettina Severin-Barboutie und Nikola Tietze). URL: https://zeithistorische-forschungen.de/3-2018/id=5613

Theresa Wobbe und Léa Renard (2017): The Category of ‘Family Workers’ in International Labour Organization Statistics (1930-1980s): A Contribution to the Study of Globalized Gendered Boundaries Between Household and Market, in: Journal of Global History, Jg. 12, S. 340-360.

Theresa Wobbe, Léa Renard und Katja Müller (2017): Nationale und globale Deutungsmodelle des Geschlechts im arbeitsstatistischen sowie arbeitsrechtlichen Klassifikationssystem: Ein vergleichstheoretischer Beitrag (1882-1992), in: Soziale Welt, Jg. 68, S. 63-85.

Naomi Truan und Léa Renard (2017): Dire l'intégration. Les rapports français et allemands sur l'intégration entre injonction à la neutralité et volonté d'influence (1991-2014), in: Mots. Les langages du politique, n°114.

Léa Renard und Naomi Truan (2016): Identitäten in Bewegung. Wege zu einem interdisziplinären Forschungsdesign zwischen Sprach- und Sozialwissenschaften, in: Trajectoires [Online], Hors-série | 2016. URL : http://trajectoires.revues.org/1833

Léa Renard und Naomi Truan (Hg.) (2016): Identités en mouvement. Pratiques interdisciplinaires autour d’un concept controversé, in: Trajectoires [Online], Hors-série | 2016. URL : https://trajectoires.revues.org/1832.

Léa Renard (2014): The Statistical Construction of Alterity: Governing National Population by Numbers in France and Germany (1860-1900), in: Per Wisselgren, Peter Baehr, Kiyomitsu Yui (Hg.), International Histories of Sociology. Conference Proceedings of the Research Committee on History of Sociology from the XIV ISA World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, 13-19 July 2014, 2014, S. 225-240.