Anthropologist Wade Davis is perhaps the most articulate and influential western advocate for the world's indigenous cultures. His stunning photographs and evocative stories capture the viewer's imagination. As a speaker, he parlays that sense of wonder into passionate concern over the rate at which cultures and languages are disappearing -- 50 percent of the world's 6,000 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."
Davis, a Harvard-educated ethnobotanist, believes humanity's greatest legacy is the "ethnosphere," the cultural counterpart to the biosphere, and "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." He beautifully articulates the intellectual, emotional and moral reasons why it's in everyone's best interest to preserve the world's cultures.
To this end, Davis serves on the councils of Ecotrust and other NGOs working to protect diversity. He also co-founded Cultures on the Edge, a quarterly online magazine designed to raise awareness of threatened communities. Perhaps his best-known work is The Serpent and the Rainbow, an international bestseller about zombification practices in Haiti. Wes Craven adapted the book into a 1988 film, which Davis denounced as a betrayal of the book's spirit.
Books:Into the Silence, October 2011
The Wayfinders, October 2009
Lost Amazon, October 2006