Frank Forencich, B.A.— Ubuntu: a paleolithic perspective on human community and health

Frank Forencich, B.A. presenting at the Ancestral Health |Symposium 2012 (AHS12)

Ubuntu: a paleolithic perspective on human community and health

In the world of Paleo, there’s lots of talk about diet, exercise and the health of individuals. But we’re now beginning to realize that health is something created in community and interdependence with others. As Westerners, we live in a culture that prizes, even glorifies, individual action and achievement. This belief would be incomprehensible to tribal peoples living in a wild environment. Living in close proximity to hungry predators, the only real safety is in tribal cohesion. This orientation is reflected in our bodies and our brains. Social neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology are now revealing powerful connectivity between people, a link that shapes our bodies, our tissue and our health. In effect, our health and fitness are co-creations.

This orientation is also reflected in the world views of primal peoples of southern Africa, a socially-oriented epistemology called “ubuntu.” Ubuntu places the focus of attention outside the individual, onto relationships and community. This orientation is a powerful missing element in modern discussions of health and fitness.

In this spoken-slide show presentation, I will explain the reach of social neuroscience, the history and philosophy of ubuntu and the ways that this knowledge might be used to support our health in the modern world. I will demonstrate with examples the many ways in which the actions and behaviors of others in community changes our bodies and the trajectory of our health. Finally, I will encourage participants to reflect on ways in which we might bring an ubuntu orientation to conventional training practices.

Frank Forencich is an internationally recognized leader in health education and performance training. He earned his B.A. at Stanford University in human biology and has over 30 years teaching experience in health promotion.

He is the author of Play as if Your Life Depends on It, Exuberant Animal and Change Your Body, Change the World.

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