Ancient Futures, now translated into more than 40 languages, is Helena Norberg-Hodge’s moving portrait of tradition and change in Ladakh (or “Little Tibet”), a scathing critique of the global economy, and a rallying call for economic localization. Originally published in 1991, the updated 2016 edition contains a new preface by the author, as well as the original foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama and an afterword by Peter Matthiesen.
When Helena Norberg-Hodge first arrived in Ladakh, in northern India, she found a pristine environment and a people who exhibited remarkable vitality and joy. But then came economic growth and development. Over the last four decades, a whole range of problems—from polluted air and water to unemployment, religious conflict, eating disorders and youth suicide—have begun to appear for the first time.
Yet this is far from a story of despair. Social and environmental breakdown, Norberg-Hodge argues, is neither inevitable nor evolutionary, but the product of political and economic decisions—and those decisions can be changed.
In a new preface, she presents a kaleidoscope of projects around the world that are pointing the way to both human and ecological well-being. These initiatives are the manifestation of a rapidly growing localization movement, which works to rebuild place-based cultures—strengthening community and our connection with nature. Ancient Futures challenges us to redefine what a healthy society means and to find ways to carry centuries-old wisdom into our future.
Published by Local Futures
The Film Ancient Futures
An award-winning film based on the book was produced (and narrated) in 1993 by Local Futures’ Programs Director, John Page.
Praise for Ancient Futures
“Everyone who cares about the future of this planet and their children’s future should read this book.”
~ The Guardian ~
“Some books provide insights into our problems; others offer guidelines for a different future. Ancient Futures does both, brilliantly. A true classic.”
~ Bill McKibben ~
“Ancient Futures was a critical early warning about the social, spiritual and ecological costs of exporting ‘Western’ lifestyles to every corner of the globe.”
~ Naomi Klein ~
“Ancient Futures was a formative influence on my worldview. That it is still so relevant today shows how far ahead of its time it was.”
~ Charles Eisenstein ~
“For decades Helena Norberg-Hodge has been a thinker ahead of her time. Ancient Futures is a profoundly important book that can help us to redefine the whole notion of ‘progress’.”
~ Doug Tompkins ~
“Ancient Futures has proven to be a wonderful guide and companion providing a positive vision of an economy that respects traditional values and brings well-being to people. I recommend the book wholeheartedly to business leaders, policy makers, academics and those who are concerned with the future of our planet.”
~ Satish Kumar ~
“Ancient Futures had a huge impact on the course of my life’s work. It shows us that another, better world is possible!”
~ Frances Moore Lappé ~
“When I first read Ancient Futures in 1992, it changed my life, and it has colored my thinking in all the years since.”
~ Richard Heinberg ~
About the Author
Author and filmmaker Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of Local Futures. A pioneer of the ‘new economy’ movement, she has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for more than thirty years.
In addition to authoring Ancient Futures, Helena produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary The Economics of Happiness. Her newest book, Local is Our Future, will be released on July 1st, 2019.
Helena has given public lectures in seven languages, and has appeared in broadcast, print, and online media worldwide, including MSNBC, The London Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Guardian.
She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh, and received the 2012 Goi Peace Prize for contributing to “the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide.” For a complete biography, see here: Helena Norberg-Hodge.