Books

World of wonder

A Canadian expert on traditional societies shares his photo album

November 5 2001
Books

World of wonder

A Canadian expert on traditional societies shares his photo album

November 5 2001

World of wonder

Books

A Canadian expert on traditional societies shares his photo album

Wade Davis has spent the past 25 years studying traditional societies around the world. Born in Montreal and raised in Victoria, the ethnobotanist-anthropologist has taken thousands of pictures while researching the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, the Kogi of Colombia, the Penan of Borneo and many other groups. Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures is Davis’s first book of photographs. It presents 79 images along with a text by Davis exploring what he calls

the “ethnosphere”—the wondrous variety of human cultures—and contemplating what indigenous people can teach the rest of the world. “Every view of the world that fades away, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life and reduces the human repertoire of adaptive responses to the common problems that confront us all,” writes the author-photographer, 48, who is currently explorer-inresidence for the National Geographic Society. Now based in Washington (he, his wife and their two children spend sum-

mers in the Stikine wilderness of British Columbia), Davis continues: “Knowledge is lost, not only of the natural world but of realms of the spirit, intuitions about the meaning of the cosmos, insights into the very nature of existence.”