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The Paleolithic imagination:Nature, science, and race in Anthropocene fitness cultures

Weedon, G; Patchin, PM; (2021) The Paleolithic imagination:Nature, science, and race in Anthropocene fitness cultures. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 10.1177/25148486211004365. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The widespread uptake of the Anthropocene concept over the past two decades has seen a concomitant rise in cultural forms that trade on nostalgia for Paleolithic life. Mud running, CrossFit, and the Paleo diet exemplify this trend, with the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer at the center of their popular prescriptions for healthy living. In this article, we identify these practices as embodying the anxieties of the Anthropocene as well as its historical and racial elisions. By focusing on the oblique and subtle racializations of Anthropocene health and fitness cultures, we contribute to understandings of the cultural significance of the human body in the Anthropocene and the relationship between the biopolitics of health and geological life, arguing that the body is a key site through which the tensions and inequalities of the Anthropocene are played out. And by unraveling how the Paleolithic imagination is rooted in a distinctly capitalist, Euro-American attitude to the body in nature, we show the Anthropocene to be defined by uneven distributions of health as self-optimization, and health as environmental risk. The Paleolithic imagination demonstrates the tangled politics of race, science, and nature in the twenty-first century, in which global ecological instability, the biopolitics of health, the shadows of colonialism, and consumer capitalism converge.

Type: Article
Title: The Paleolithic imagination:Nature, science, and race in Anthropocene fitness cultures
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/25148486211004365
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/25148486211004365
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Anthropocene, Fitness, Health, Paleolithic, Race
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office > UCL Institute for Advanced Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10133998
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