I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk with ethnobotanist and anthropologist Wade Davis when he was in Montreal recently to deliver the fourth of his five Massey lectures, the most prestigious and anticipated Canadian lecture series of the year. These lectures, which are being broadcast from Nov. 2-6 for the CBC Radio program Ideas, are based on his new book ‘The Wayfinders: Why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world‘.
Over the years, I have followed the writings and various exploits of Wade Davis with considerable interest and some envy. A National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis travels the globe to live alongside indigenous people, and document their cultural practices in books, photographs, and film. He has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet, and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.”
Originally born in Montreal but raised in B.C., Wade Davis is perhaps the most articulate and influential western advocate for the world’s indigenous cultures. His writing evokes a passionate concern over the rate at which cultures and languages are disappearing — 50 percent of the world’s 7,000 languages, he says, are no longer taught to children. He argues, in the most beautiful terms, that language isn’t just a collection of vocabulary and grammatical rules. In fact, “Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind.”
He is the bestselling author of several books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, Light at the Edge of the World, and The Clouded Leopard. He is an award-winning anthropologist, ethnobotanist, filmmaker and photographer, and his writing and photographs have been widely published.
In this interview I did for CKUT radio, Wade explains why we should be gravely concerned about the disappearance of indigenous cultures around the world, what we can learn from ancient wisdom and how cultural diversity can provide us with alternative models and solutions in confronting some of the most serious challenges facing humanity today.
CLICK HERE to download the interview (To download, right click and select “save link as…”)