Lise Meitner Research Group BirthRites - Cultures of Reproduction

BirthRites is an Independent Lise Meitner Research Group hosted by the Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, and Culture at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The research group started as an Independent Max Planck Research Group in December 2019 and transitioned to the Lise Meitner Excellence Programme in March 2023. Our focus is the coevolution of culture (broadly construed) and demography. We combine key questions and methods in anthropology with cultural evolutionary theory and demography.

Our aims are: to better understand the relationship between culture and demography in the past, present and future; to develop theoretical models of reproductive dynamics grounded in the field of cultural evolution, and to draw together research practices from the humanities and sciences.

Our work is interdisciplinary. We combine insights from high-resolution field research, ethnography, comparative analysis, statistical and theoretical modeling, historical and conceptual approaches to reproduction. The work is organised around three broad approaches: micro-level field research; comparative, historical and macro-level research; and theoretical and conceptual research. 

Positions available

There are currently no positions available.

Group Leader

Research Staff

Doctoral Students

Associate Researcher

Administrative Staff

Technical Staff


  • Madeleine Goumas
  • Sarah Johns
  • Nicholas Montalva
  • Justyna Olko
  • Shaun Stipp

External Associated Researchers

  • Pablo Varas Enriquez (affiliated PhD student, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
  • Brigitte Laboukly (Vanuatu field manager)
  • Andrzej Galbarczyk (Poland field manager, Department of Public Health, Jagiellonian University Krakow)
  • Clare Mc Fadden (Guest researcher)