Inuit without igloos, mothers without husbands

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Elspeth Ready
Date and Time: 
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 12:00pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


During the mid-20th century, Inuit in Nunavik moved from tents and igloos in seasonal settlements to wooden houses in permanent villages. At the same time, birth rates increased dramatically while infant mortality remained high. I examine this fertility increase by identifying and exploring possible differences in the reproductive trade-offs faced by Inuit women in the fur-trade and settlement periods. Rather than viewing the transition to permanent settlement as a period during which Inuit experienced an adaptive lag, the data suggest that Inuit women rapidly adjusted to new socio-economic conditions by increasing fertility, increasing reliance on adoption, and decreasing willingness to accept traditional forms of marriage.


Elspeth's archaeological and ethnographic research interests are focused on human subsistence ecology, especially the role of environmental variability in human food systems today and in the past. Her research examines the hybrid subsistence economy among Inuit in northern Quebec, in particular, the economic and social importance of country foods, their role in food security and sovereignty, and the effect of changed weather patterns on different traditional subsistence activities. She is also active in archaeological research investigating Dorset and Inuit occupations in Nunavik, and the foraging adaptations of Neandertals and early modern humans in Western Europe.

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