This is known by several names such as paper cutting, paper carving, folk cutting, Wycinanki(Polish), Schereneschnitte (In German meaning scissor cuts), and Knippen ( by the Dutch). In Japan Mon Kiri involves folding and cutting paper.
In 105CE Chinese invented paper like or simalar to what we call paper. It was considered a valued commodity and wasn't cut until around 600CE. By the 13th century paper cutting was done all around China. They kept the making of paper a secret until around 610CE when monks brought the know how to Japan. When it spread to the Middle East, Bagdad became the first place to build mills ( around 794CE). In the 11th century people in Turkey were cutting paper and by the 16th century they even had paper carver guilds. The Christian churh tried for centuries to boycott the use of paper because they thought Muslims were trying to take over trade and culture through paper. The Jewish living and trading alongside Muslims had easy access to paper and began paper cutting for religious and mystical reasons. In the 15th century when the printing press was invented the Christians changed their view bout paper. Turks and Egyptians sold paper to Europe. It was expensive at first and paper cutting was only done for religeous reasons then. Germans brought paper cutting to America in the late 17th century. So, paper cutting traveled from China to Asia, to Europe, and then to North America.
Amazon has some great books on paper cutting. I reccomend Creative Paper Cutting by Chong-Ah Hwang, Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artist, Timeless Crafts by Laura Heyenga, The Book of Paper Cutting by Chris Rich and Scherenschnitte by Susan Schlapfer-Geiser Their are many other books on the subject but, these are a good place to start.