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"The Space of Names: Geography, Ethnicity, and Populations in Place Names," presented by Pablo Mateos of CIESAS for the Morrison Institute Winter Colloquium.

There are important shortcomings in the means available to researchers to define and classify human group difference in past, as well as contemporary populations, along the loose concept of ‘ethnicity’. Personal naming conventions usually adhere to unwritten social norms and customs that with time end up producing distinctive cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious and geographic patterns in name distributions. The apparently innocuous act of naming a newborn baby anywhere in the world belies the parents’ cultural baggage of social expectations and ethno-cultural customs that have evolved over generations. Thus, personal names have provided a reliable indicator of population structure, migration flows, intermarriage, endogamy and genetic inheritance, as well as classifications of populations by ethno-cultural origin in health, electoral candidates, inventors, and even in on-line communities in social media. This talk presents the results of an ambitious program of research on the geography and ethnicity of personal names at University College London (UCL). Its results focus on fine-grained geographical analysis and geovisualizations of population dynamics across space and time. Using maps and network analysis, Mateos and his collaborators have uncovered the fascinating journey of personal names in over 26 countries across the world, revealing interesting patterns by ethnic and geographic origins in contemporary population groups and neighbourhoods. The talk proposes that such innovative approach allows population researchers to build more nuanced understandings about the history and immediate future of our contemporary multicultural societies, even in today’s highly interconnected world.
Key publications
Mateos, P. (2014) Names, Ethnicity, and Populations; Tracing identity in space. Springer: Heidelberg 269p. ISBN 978-3642454127



Wednesday, February 25, 2015. 04:15 PM


Herrin Hall, T-175


Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies




Free and open to the public.