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The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (The CBC Massey Lectures) Paperback – October 13, 2009
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About the Author
Wade Davis is professor of anthropology and the B.C. Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Between 1999 and 2013 he served as Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and is currently a member of the NGS Explorers Council and Honorary Vice-President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Named by the NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, he has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.” In 2014, Switzerland’s leading think tank, the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute of Zurich, ranked him 16th in their annual survey of the top 100 most influential global Thought Leaders.
- Publisher : House of Anansi Press; First Edition (October 13, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 280 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0887847668
- ISBN-13 : 978-0887847660
- Item Weight : 9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.75 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #125,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Highly recommended. Davis reminded me of what got me interested in anthropology over 20 years ago, and why I started travelling
Important in its mission of discovery.
Enlightening for anyone who wonders if "modern civilization" focuses on what matters most.
Good for National Geographic to have someone like Wade Davis to investigate and collect what's left of indigenous cultures and peoples. There is heartbreak in the realization of how much the homogenization of internationalization and the high-speed morphing of momentary pop cultures.
Why do we speak the languages we do? How did humanity journey out of Africa millennia ago and come to settle every corner of the habitable world? In examining the planet’s constellation of cultures, Davis argues that thousands of languages and millions of lifeways are as threatened as species comprising the biosphere. The loss of either has equal significance for the flourishing of our world. To read his book is to discover a love letter to our species and develop a new understanding of the diversity of human endeavor. The images are robust: San sipping water from ostrich eggs beneath the sweltering Kalahari sun, a steadfast wayfinder aboard the open-decked Hokule’a crashing through waves on a journey across the Pacific and into the Polynesian spirit, travels into the jade canopy of the Amazon rainforest - realm of the jaguar shaman. A former National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Davis writes from firsthand experience based on decades of fieldwork and creates a sense of eyewitness any travel writer would envy while never deviating from scholarly precision.
As a historical text, the book is exhaustively researched and includes an annotated bibliography with years of reading material for those interested in anthropology and natural history. While acknowledging Western culture’s triumphs and contributions, Davis also explores the consequences of colonialism. Losing connection with other ways of living carries environmental and psychological costs, and the character of culture is inextricably linked to the spirit of place. The Tendai marathon monks of Japan, Andean pilgrimages, or Songlines of Aboriginal Australia represent exquisite achievements in human thought, and Davis interrogates the extent to which a singular culture produces a singular mindset. Yet the book remains hopeful. Why does Davis have faith in our ability to mend ages of destruction? Because of the tenacity and ingenuity of the human journey he himself celebrates. An unforgettable read both for the energy of its author and the poetry of its language, The Wayfinders inspired me to pursue anthropology more than any other text.
The chapter about the ability of the Polynesian people to navigate the oceans without any tools other than their passed-down knowledge and innate sensibilities is mind-blowing.