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Light At The Edge Of The World

A Journey through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures
Paperback Book
Douglas & McIntyre
January, 2007
$16.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

Having traveled the world for more than thirty years studying the mysteries of sacred plants and celebrating the poetics of culture, Wade Davis’s explorations of indigenous life in places as remote and diverse as the Canadian Arctic, the rain forests of Borneo and the Amazon, and the surreal cultural landscape of Haiti have shown him how many of these cultures are in danger of losing their way of life—a loss that affects humans on a global scale. His evocative text looks at the “ethnosphere”—the diversity of ways of thinking and living that traditional cultures have to teach us about our place in the world, and how we affect one another and our surroundings.

The light at the edge of the world is cast by a shrinking number of tenuous flames—the Cree and Ojibwa, the Xerente and Kayapo, the Waorani and the Penan—remote enclaves of cultural brilliance from the 300 million indigenous people who speak 60 percent of the world’s languages and who are being driven to extinction at a staggering rate. These are people still so connected to the rhythms and textures and flavours of the earth that, as Davis says, “There is no separation between the spirit and the crude proximity of everyday life.”

The author (whose mind-opening books include One River and The Serpent and the Rainbow) weaves stories from research and travel among people whom we too often called “primitive,” whose elaborate knowledge and profound wisdom are unknown or unvalued by most of the rest of the world. This is an enormously important, gorgeously written book.

It is my hope that these stories will provide a moving and visceral sense of the wondrous diversity and character of the “ethnosphere,” a notion perhaps best defined as the sum total of all thoughts, beliefs, myths, and intuitions made manifest today by the myriad cultures of the world. The ethnosphere is humanity’s greatest legacy. It is the product of our dreams, the embodiment of our hopes, the symbol of all that we are and all that we have created as a wildly inquisitive and astonishingly adaptive species.

Publisher’s Description: 

For more than 30 years, renowned anthropologist Wade Davis has traveled the globe, studying the mysteries of sacred plants and celebrating the worlds traditional cultures. His passion as an ethnobotanist has brought him to the very center of indigenous life in places as remote and diverse as the Canadian Arctic, the deserts of North Africa, the rain forests of Borneo, the mountains of Tibet, and the surreal cultural landscape of Haiti. In Light at the Edge of the World, Davis explores the idea that these distinct cultures represent unique visions of life itself and have much to teach the rest of the world about different ways of living and thinking. As he investigates the dark undercurrents tearing people from their past and propelling them into an uncertain future, Davis reiterates that the threats faced by indigenous cultures endanger and diminish all cultures.

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