Davis, Wade: Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures (2001)
Our discussion took place: September 2010
Review: © Booklist: Ethnobotanist and anthropologist Davis, author of One River (1996) and Shadows in the Sun (1998), has traveled the world for 25 years, pen and camera in hand, to study the myriad ways indigenous people live in physical and spiritual intimacy with the natural world. Driven by curiosity and a profound respect for the “ethnosphere,” humanity’s diverse “thoughts, beliefs, myths, and intuitions,” Davis has dwelled among the people of the Arctic, the Amazon, Haiti, Kenya, Borneo, Australia, and Tibet, learning their modes of being, cosmologies, and botanical expertise. His quest has rendered him acutely sensitive to the connection between biodiversity and cultural diversity, and as he portrays in pellucid language and magnificent photographs healers, shamans, hunters, and men, women, and children adept at survival in the most demanding of wildernesses, he decries the rampant environmental destruction and globalization that are decimating indigenous cultures, thus depriving future generations of their knowledge, wisdom, and unique perspectives. Aesthetically powerful in both word and image, this essential volume opens readers’ eyes and imaginations to the wonders of the earth and humanity’s varied “insights into the very nature of existence,” a bounty and legacy we simply cannot do without.