- Series: CBC Massey Lecture
- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: House of Anansi Press; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0887847668
- ISBN-13: 978-0887847660
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 96 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (CBC Massey Lecture) Paperback – October 13, 2009
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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.
Highly recommended. Davis reminded me of what got me interested in anthropology over 20 years ago, and why I started travelling
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.