The 2009 Massey Lectures series, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, is an enlightening, awe-inspiring and cautionary look at vanishing cultures and languages from one of the world’s most celebrated anthropologists.
Over the past decade, many of us have been alarmed to learn of the rapidly accelerating extinction of our planet’s diverse flora and fauna. But how many of us know that our human cultural diversity is also going extinct at a shocking rate? Biologists estimate that 18% of mammals and 11% of birds are threatened, while botanists anticipate the loss of 8% of flora. Meanwhile, of the 7,000 languages in the world today, fully 50% will disappear in our lifetime. And languages are merely the canaries in the coal mine: what of the poetry, songs, knowledge and ways of seeing encoded in these disappearing voices?
In The Wayfinders, acclaimed anthropologist Wade Davis offers a gripping firsthand account of this urgent crisis. He leads us on a fascinating tour through a handful of indigenous cultures and worldviews while reminding us of the encroaching dangers posed by unchecked globalization.
ABOUT WADE DAVIS:
Wade Davis 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 also an award-winning anthropologist, ethnobotanist, filmmaker and photographer, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, Newsweek, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Davis divides his time between Washington, DC and northern British Columbia.