Rejecting ‘natural fertility’

Event details


Date & time

Monday 06 June 2022


Online via Zoom


Heidi Colleran


CHL Communicate

Additional links

Synapse Trans-Disciplinary Seminar Series by the School of Culture, History & Language

This event will be hosted online only, via Zoom – register at Eventbrite for details on how to join.


The idea of a naturalized state of human reproduction (‘natural fertility’) permeates both evolutionary anthropology and demography, and is foundational for most modelling of population dynamics.

In this talk Heidi will provide an overview and a critique of this approach. She will argue that natural fertility creates unnecessary ethical, theoretical and conceptual problems and that putting pressure on this core assumption helps build bridges between disciplines.

Drawing on a range of interdisciplinary anthropological work, including recent work in Vanuatu, she will argue against natural fertility and for a better understanding of the feedback between culture, reproductive decision-making, and demography. Heidi will give broader examples of how she thinks anthropology and the population sciences can better work together.

About the Speakers

Heidi Colleran leads the Birth Rites independent research group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, which focuses on the anthropology of reproduction and its implications for evolution and demography. She is an anthropologist working at the intersection of socio-cultural anthropology, demography and cultural evolution. She has a background in philosophy and Russian, and postgraduate training in psychology and evolutionary anthropology. Her main area of interest is the relationship between reproductive behaviour, culture, and population dynamics.

Her research combines approaches from the humanities and social sciences and tries to bridge micro and macro levels of analysis.

This is a public seminar and will be recorded.

The recording will be made available after the event through the Synapse Trans-Disciplinary Seminar Series page.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster