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ELSPETH READY

Senior Researcher
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
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ABOUT

My research interests are broadly focused in two areas: human subsistence ecology, both today and in the past, and on social support networks. My work cross-cuts cultural, evolutionary, and biological anthropology.

My field research has focused on the role of traditional harvesting and food sharing in the food security and socioeconomic status of Inuit in the Canadian Arctic. I have spent over 18 months conducting Arctic fieldwork since 2011, mostly in the Northern Village of Kangiqsujuaq (Nunavik). During this time I have collected extensive data on food security, food sharing, and subsistence harvesting. One of the major conclusions of my research on subsistence activities is that poverty constrains how effectively traditional harvesting and sharing can contribute to community resilience to climate change. An additional focus of my work is on understanding food security in mixed cash-subsistence economies. This work focuses on bridging the gap between quantitative scientific methods and the multidimensional and cultural ways in which people experience food insecurity. More recently, I have been working with Peter Collings (University of Florida) on developing community-based participatory research regarding mental health and well-being in Kangiqsujuaq and Ulukhaktok (NWT).

I am currently collaborating on several additional projects based on ethnographic data from Tanzania, Tamil Nadu, and Puerto Rico. These projects are focused on using network methods to test behavioural ecological hypotheses about the benefits (and costs!) of cooperation. A complementary focus on the development of quantitative data collection and analysis methods is also a major thread of my research. My collaborator Eleanor Power (LSE) and I are currently working on developing a database of human social network data that will enable us to better understand the impact of data collection methods on the social patterns we observe.

I also maintain an active research agenda in archaeology, in collaboration with Eugène Morin at Trent University. Our work has focused on Neandertal subsistence ecology, quantitative zooarchaeological methods and on the use of skeletal part profiles to infer Palaeolithic subsistence behaviours.

Outside of work, I enjoy long-distance running, hiking, various musical pursuits, and, these days, learning German! For all the boring details, download my curriculum vitae.

PUBLICATIONS

Arctic work

Koster, J., McElreath, R. et al. 2020. The life history of human foraging: Cross-cultural and individual variation. Science Advances 6 (26): eaax9070.

Ready, E. 2019. Why subsistence matters. Hunter-Gatherer Research 3 (4): 635–649.

Ready, E. 2018. Who, being loved, is poor? Poverty, marriage, and changing family structures in the Canadian Arctic. Human Organization 77 (2): 122–134.

Ready, E. 2018. Sharing-based social capital associated with harvest production and wealth in the Canadian Arctic. PLoS ONE 13 (3): e1093759.

Ready, E. and Collings, P. 2018. Rethinking "Big problems" in Arctic health. Anthropology News 59 (1): e71-e76.

Ready, E. and Power, E.A. 2018. Why wage-earners hunt. Food sharing, social structure and influence in an Arctic mixed economy. Current Anthropology 59 (1): 74–97.

Ready, E. 2016. Challenges in the assessment of Inuit food security. Arctic 69 (3): 266–280.

Ready, E. 2015. Ensuring country food access for a food secure future in Nunavik. In: Quebec policy on the Arctic: Challenges and perspectives. Arctic and International Relations Series, Issue 1. Canadian Studies Center and Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, pp.50–54. University of Washington, Seattle.

Archaeological Research

Ready, E. and Price, M.H. Under review. Human behavioral ecology and niche construction.

Morin, E., Beauval, C., Boileau, A., Ready, E., and Laroulandie, V., 2019. The Number of Distinct Elements: Extending a landmark-based counting unit to other taxa. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 24: 773–784.

Ready, E. and Morin, E., 2019. Preliminary analysis of faunal remains from three Middle Paleolithic deposits in Charente, France. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 24: 290–301 .

Morin, E., E. Ready, A. Boileau, C. Beauval, and M.P. Coumont. 2017. Problems of Identification and Quantification in Archaeozoological Analysis, Part I: Insights from a Blind Test. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
24 (3): 886–937.

Morin, E., E. Ready, A. Boileau, C. Beauval, and M.P. Coumont. 2017. Problems of Identification and Quantification in Archaeozoological Analysis, Part II: Presentation of an Alternative Counting Method. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 24 (3): 938–973.

Ready, E. 2013. Neandertal foraging during the late Mousterian in the Pyrenees: New insights based on faunal remains from Gatzarria Cave. Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 1568–1578.

Morin, E., and E. Ready. 2013. Foraging goals and transport decisions in Western Europe during the Middle and early Upper Paleolithic. In: J.A. Clark and J. Speth, Eds., Zooarchaeology and modern human origins: Human hunting behavior during the later Pleistocene. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, pp. 227–269. Springer, Dordrecht.

Ready, E. 2010. Neandertal Man the hunter: A history of Neandertal subsistence. Vis-à-vis: Explorations in Anthropology 10: 58–80.

Other projects and collaborations

Ready, E., Habecker, P., Abadie, R., Davila, C., Rivera Villegas, A., Khan, B., and Dombrowski, K. Forthcoming. Comparing social network structures generated through sociometric and ethnographic methods. Field methods.

Ready, E., Habecker, P., Abadie, R., Khan, B., and Dombrowski, K. 2020. Competing forces of withdrawal and disease avoidance in the risk networks of people who inject drugs. PLoS ONE 15 (6): e0235124.

Power, E.A. and Ready, E. 2019. Cooperation beyond consanguinity: post-marital residence, delineations of kin, and social support among South Indian Tamils. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 374 (1780): 20180070.

Bliege Bird, R., Ready, E., and Power, E.A., 2018. The social significance of subtle signals. Nature Human Behaviour 2 (2): 1–6.

Power, E. and Ready, E. 2018. Building bigness: Reputation, prominence, and social capital in rural South India. American Anthropologist 120 (3): 444–459.

RESOURCES

Community and policy reports

A 2015 summary report of results from my dissertation fieldwork, in Inuktitut and English, is available here. This work led to the publication of a policy report on food security in Nunavik.

A more detailed report for the community concerning subsistence and food security from 2018 can be downloaded here. The results of this report were used by the Kangiqsujuaq community council to develop of a program to support young families to go hunting together.

A summary of our recent pilot study on community health and wellness (with Peter Collings) can be found here.

Teaching materials

Lecture slides for my section of the HBEC PhD core seminar (Subsistence and Cooperation).

Jamie Jones, Ashley Hazel and I ran introductory social network analysis workshops at the AAPA meetings in 2018 and 2019. You can view the materials on our workshop webpage.

Interpreting transitivity terms in network models can be difficult. Elly Power and I have worked out a detailed explanation of how GWESP terms in the statnet package work, including how to calculate model predictions for exponential random graph models containing these terms. Check out our tutorial here.

Datasets and code repositories

Code repository for Comparing social network structures... (Ready et al. forthcoming).

Code and data for Competing forces of withdrawal and disease avoidance... (Ready et al. 2020).

Code repository for Cooperation beyond consanguinuity (Power and Ready 2019).

Code repository for Building Bigness (Power and Ready 2018).

Data for Sharing-based social capital... (Ready 2018). See S1 Table and S1 Data.

Media coverage

Can sustainability ensure survival? I help a reporter from Deutschlandfunk find out (in German).

This blog post reflects on the double-edged sword of media coverage.

What can gig economy workers learn from romance writers? A report by Christine Larson on our analysis of romance writers' advice networks.

Letter to the Editor, Maclean's magazine (November 2016)