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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Video: TED Talk - Wade Davis on Endangered Cultures

Click here to watch Wade Davis talk about Endangered Cultures 

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 is not 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 www.ecotrust.org 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. In 2007, he authored The Clouded Leopard: A Book of Travels and two years later gave a series of lectures which were published into his latest work, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in a Modern World.

His work with indigenous cultures has given him a truly unique view of the world. He is able to slip off the map for awhile, to live with the voodoo priests in Haiti, the Penan in Borneo, or the Quechuen of Chinchero." - CBC-TV