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wade davis

Photo by Mark Thiessen

Anthropologist/Ethnobotanist
Explorers Council, Explorer-in-Residence, 2000-2013
source of below extract

Wade Davis was 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 recent years his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland.

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent over three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among fifteen indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making some 6000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing Passage of Darkness (1988) and The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), an international best seller later released by Universal as a motion picture.

His other books include Penan: Voice for the Borneo Rain Forest (1990), Shadows in the Sun (1993), Nomads of the Dawn (1995), One River (1996), which was nominated for the 1997 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, The Clouded Leopard (1998), Rainforest (1998), Light at the Edge of the World (2001), The Lost Amazon (2004), Grand Canyon (2008), Book of Peoples of the World (ed. 2008) and The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, the 2009 Massey lectures. His books have been translated into fifteen languages, including Basque, Serbian, Korean, Mandarin, Bulgarian, Japanese and Malay, and have sold approximately 800,000 copies worldwide.


Published on Jul 31, 2015

Ancient Voices, Modern World: Acclaimed anthropologist Wade Davis journeys into hidden worlds to find cultures that have preserved their ways of life in the face of modern society.

Part 1: Mongolia

Acclaimed anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis travels to the Central Asian steppes of Mongolia to meet descendents of Genghis Khan. These people are remnants of an ancient nomadic horse culture that thrived in the region’s harsh conditions for more than 2,000 years.

Part 2: Australia

National Geographic joins Wade Davis on a journey deep into the Australian outback to document the disappearing cultures of Australia’s Aborigines, thought to be one of the oldest groups of peoples on earth. After losing clan members to disease, war, and famine–as well as battling enforced relocations–small Aboriginal clans must fight to keep traditions alive for the next generation.

Part 3: Amazon

National Geographic ventures into the rain forest with Wade Davis for an up-close look at the Barasana River people, a group believed to be descendents of the legendary “lost” Amazonians. Davis embarks on a symbolic journey that will honour the group’s ancestors and witnesses the rituals that demonstrate respect for this tropical landscape.

Part 4: Colombia

Acclaimed anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis makes a remarkable journey into the heart of war-torn Colombia to visit one of the indigenous groups that call themselves the Elder Brothers. These extraordinary people claim to be the last descendants of a once-great civilization, the Tairona, and to speak with their voice. Could they be the last window we have on the great high civilizations of the ancient Americas?

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