Uncivilised Genes

Human evolution and the urban paradox

By: Gustav Milne


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Size: 234 x 156mm

Pages : 272

ISBN : 9781781352656

Format: Paperback

Published: August 2017


In Uncivilised Genes: Human Evolution and the Urban Paradox, Gustav Milne explores how we can reconfigure our lifestyles and urban environments, based on an understanding of our prehistoric past, in order to bring about a richer future for mankind.

We evolved as hunter-gatherers over a period of more than three million years: living off the land within small tribal societies in a symbiotic working relationship with nature. Understanding this legacy and how our evolution has determined our social, psychological, nutritional and physiological needs means we can adopt what Milne has termed evolutionary-concordant behaviours: behaviours designed to reconcile the fundamental mismatch between our current urban lifestyles and our ancient biology.

Our ancestral diets and lifestyles could hold the secret not only to enhancing our health and happiness but also to combating the prevalence of western lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer to name but a few. Milne expertly evaluates these challenges – along with many other issues pertinent to our urban wellbeing – and proposes solutions within our reach, including adaptations to our dietary regimes, lifestyle-embedded activities and school and university curriculums, and a re-engineering of our built environment to better suit our needs.

Drawing on what archaeological evidence reveals about Palaeolithic and Mesolithic diets, as well as on anthropological studies of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, Uncivilised Genes offers timely insights to enhance our collective and individual health and prosperity. It also shines a spotlight on the evolutionary determinants of social behaviour, and looks at how we can bridge the gap between the world we are creating and the un-urbanised, uncivilised world to which we are genetically and psychologically better adapted.

This book is not a rejection of modernity. Neither is it a call to reject towns and seek solace in a rural idyll, nor another celebrity-endorsed fad diet or exercise programme. Rather, it is a comprehensive chronicle of the myriad factors that continue to contribute to our societal and personal wellbeing, and a broad-ranging blueprint for a richer future more in tune with our basic physiology, psychology, metabolism and mindset.

Essential reading for anyone interested in living a healthier, more evolutionary-concordant life.

Contents include:

1. In the Beginning

2. Genesis

3. A View of the Garden

4. A Hunger Game

5. Food for Thought

6. Body of Evidence

7. A Life Less Sedentary

8. Lost Tribes

9. Hunter-Gatherer vs. Football-Shopper

10. Music and Words

11. Green and Pleasant

12. Central Park

13. Old Town

14. Urban Regeneration

15. Revelations

Click here to read an article by Gustav Milne in Permaculture Magazine.

Click here to view ‘Uncivilised Genes’ featured on page 91 of Planning in London magazine.

Click here to read an article by Gustav Milne in The Irish Times.

Click here to read Robert Scheer’s New Age Journal including an article on Uncivilised Genes.


Picture for author Gustav Milne

Gustav Milne

Gustav Milne studied archaeology at the University of Oxford and at Birkbeck College, University of London. He worked as a professional archaeologist with the Museum of London for 20 years before lecturing at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL). He now leads the national community based CITiZAN coastal archaeology project, hosted by the Museum of London Archaeology and featured in the Channel 4 series Britain at Low Tide.

Click here to read Gustav Milne's article, Stone Age Cities: What modern urbanites could learn from paleolithic humans', in The Guardian.

Click here to read Gustav Milne's article, How modern cities are killing our ancient bodies ' and what planners can do about it', in The Planner.

Click here to read Robert Scheer's New Age Journal including an article on Uncivilised Genes.


Reviews

  1. -‹The fatal four lifestyle diseases -“ car-diovascular, cancer, diabetes and lung disease -“ now make up around 70% of all deaths. What's the solution?

    Leading archaeologist Gustav Milne reckons it lies in our past. Humans evolved over three million years, living off the land, hunting and gathering, living simply. And then came 24-hour supermarkets, on- demand television and takeaways. The sofa now contributes to more deaths than the motor car. And with only 10% of job roles now requiring any kind of physical effort, our sedentary lifestyles are causing this generation and the next to fall into a trap of physical illiteracy.

    In our quest for convenience, we've allowed our world to control us, and Milne argues that this has created an urban paradox that stints human evolution. It's time to reconsider how we work, rest and play to better fit our biology. In short, we need to get back to being cavemen. We need to uncivilise our genes.

    Lifestyle choices are shaped by complex cultural, economic and societal influences, so knowing where to begin is a tough call. In this fascinating book, we're taken through a beautifully researched and easy-to-read analysis of the physio-logical, metabolic and psychological factors that can have a impact on our personal health and wellbeing. Diet, exercise and social networks are all in there, but the author digs deeper, into the architecture and planning of the places in which we live and work, teasing out the need for greener cities and buildings designed with evolutionary-concordant principles.



    While much of what Milne writes is common sense, it's not common practice. Adopting the changes may take time, but through simple steps -“ eating and living like hunter- gatherers, getting tribal and roaming free -“ we can learn lessons from our prehistoric past and build a healthier urban future. Get it right and we create our own Garden of Eden.
  2. The fatal four lifestyle diseases -“ cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and lung disease -“ now make up around 70% of all deaths. What's the solution?

    Leading archaeologist Gustav Milne reckons it lies in our past. Humans evolved over three million years, living off the land, hunting and gathering, living simply. And then came 24-hour supermarkets, ondemand television and takeaways. The sofa now contributes to more deaths than the motor car. And with only 10% of job roles now requiring any kind of physical effort, our sedentary lifestyles are causing this generation and the next to fall into a trap of physical illiteracy.

    In our quest for convenience, we've allowed our world to control us, and Milne argues that this has created an urban paradox that stints human evolution. It's time to reconsider how we work, rest and play to better fit our biology. In short, we need to get back to being cavemen. We need to uncivilise our genes.

    Lifestyle choices are shaped by complex cultural, economic and societal influences, so knowing where to begin is a tough call. In this fascinating book, we're taken through a beautifully researched and easy-to-read analysis of the physiological, metabolic and psychological factors that can have a impact on our personal health and wellbeing. Diet, exercise and social networks are all in there, but the author digs deeper, into the architecture and planning of the places in which we live and work, teasing out the need for greener cities and buildings designed with evolutionary-concordant principles.

    While much of what Milne writes is common sense, it's not common practice. Adopting the changes may take time, but through simple steps -“ eating and living like huntergatherers, getting tribal and roaming free -“ we can learn lessons from our prehistoric past and build a healthier urban future. Get it right and we create our own Garden of Eden.
  3. In identifying many of the biological forces presented by urbanised living in the 21st century, Gustav Milne's Uncivilised Genes explores major challenges which conflict with modern society and undoubtedly ignore the largely unchanged biology of humans. Milne postulates a number of perspectives on modern-day developments which have impacted our health, nutrition, agriculture and societal organisation, and also examines differences between our ancestral and contemporary lifestyles. Milne doesn't stop there, however -“ he also highlights realistic protocols to which both individuals and health services can refer, to enable everyone to enjoy urban living without the consequences of diverging too far from our biological needs.
  4. January 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Month Gustav Milne gives us an overarching view of the known facts about Human evolution, showing how our outer -œshells- mask a very hunter-gatherer interior. We may show Urban cool to the world but our instincts, our brains, our guts all remain in the past, often ill-adapted to cope with modern life. This factor is so often ignored, and this book acts as a timely reminder that mental illness, addictions - even our behaviour can be caused by our ill-adaption. There are ways to cope -“ and knowing the whys and wherefores is a good place to start, Uncivilised Genes introduces the reader to the vast array of history, research and knowledge that deals with our culture and how best we can deal with urban life - even how it can deal better with us.

    Click here to read the review on Love Reading's website.

  5. Science keeps accumulating warning signs about the potentially deadly path we are blindly pursuing while increasingly secluding ourselves in ever more artificial and sanitised environments.

    In this very well-documented book, Gustav Milne traces back through hundreds of thousands of years to bring to light an unsettling genetic clue that suggests we might be indulging in terribly inappropriate behaviours; from our food habits to the way we move around -¦ and just about everything else.

    Uncivilised Genes debunks deep, hard-core, unsound beliefs about ourselves and I strongly recommend that everyone with a pre-frontal cortex reads it. At best, it might give us crucial information about who we really and deeply are -“ information that might prevent our entire species from destroying itself. At worst, it is very entertaining reading before the light goes off. 

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