“Her Language Must Be the Language of Figures”. Medical Statistics of the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia: A Comparative Perspective


  • Ruslan Mitrofanov




medical statistics, biopolitics, Russian Empire, Kingdom of Prussia, L. Krug, K. Arsen’ev


This article examines the history of the establishment of departmental medical statistics in the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia in the first half of the nineteenth century. Starting from M. Foucault’s concepts of biopolitics and governmentality, historians have studied the medical and statistical mechanisms for representing “public health” in England, France, and other West European countries in some detail. The case of the Russian Empire remains unexplored in this respect. Researchers have predominantly turned to hygienic statistics and data on mortality and fertility in Russian cities of the late imperial period, while the early period has long remained untouched. Moreover, these data have been analyzed apart from the transnational context of their creation. This article seeks to fill this gap partially. By comparing the introduction of two key medico-statistical indicators in Prussia and Russia (the nomenclature of diseases and the indicator of causes of death by disease), it has been argued that the Russian authorities, in their governing practices, followed mainly the Prussian path. In addition, both countries came to the same statistical model of representing the “public health” of the nation/empire. However, in the case of the Russian Empire, this transition was stretched over many decades and was carried out haphazardly. The article analyzes the main causes of this uneven implementation. In conclusion, it discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each country’s medical and statistical models.

Author Biography

Ruslan Mitrofanov

PhD Student, Ludwig-Maximilian University.

1, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, D-80539, München, Germany.



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How to Cite

Mitrofanov, R. (2023). “Her Language Must Be the Language of Figures”. Medical Statistics of the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia: A Comparative Perspective. Quaestio Rossica, 11(2), 489–505. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2023.2.801



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