Prehistoric human life is a common reference point in contemporary culture, inspiring our attempts to become happier, healthier, or better people. Exploited by capitalism, overwhelmed by technology, and living in the shadow of environmental catastrophe, we call on the prehistoric to escape the present and to model alternative ways of living our lives.
From everyday practices like lighting fires and walking in the woods to our engagements with genetic technologies and Neanderthal DNA, from megaliths and museum mannequins to TV shows and best-selling nonfiction, prehistory is alive in the twenty-first century.
Our popular flights back in time provide a revealing insight into present-day anxieties, obsessions, and concerns. This book explores how ideas about race are tightly woven into the prehistoric imagination, caught up in powerful origin stories about who we are, where we came from, and what we are like.
Back to the Stone Age shows that the human past is not set in stone: by opening up the prehistoric to critical contestation, racial justice becomes central to questions about the existence and persistence of Homo sapiens in the contemporary world.
I discuss some of these themes in episodes 3 and 4 of the BBC Radio 4 series My Albion.
Back to the Stone Age will be published in 2022 by McGill Queens University Press.
See this page for some short chapter summaries.