My guest today is Wade Davis, an author and anthropologist, who was until recently Explorer in Residence for the National Geographic Society and is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Some of his books include “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World,” “One River,” about which Sting wrote in his review “Read this book”, and most recently “Magdelena” which was described by the President of Colombia as essential reading for every adult Colombian.
Wade Davis is probably the most well known anthropologist in the world today. His work has received a huge boost recently from an article he wrote in The Rolling Stone Magazine about the decline of America brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, and we talk about the ongoing work he’s planning with The Rolling Stone going forward. As well as being a great writer, this interview illustrates just how compelling a storyteller Wade Davis is.
What is Covered
- What tools anthropologists can bring to the world leaders in order to re-establish geopolitical stability and deal with the climate crisis
- Redefining the notion of wealth in contemporary society by finding inspiration in the reciprocal relationship to nature of indigenous communities
- Why Colombia is one of the hot spots of cultural and natural diversity, as well as resilience in a globalised world
Key Learnings and Takeaways
- The key thing to step back from is cultural myopia, and the idea that my world is the real world and everybody else is a failed attempt to be me; we can’t afford that anymore in an interconnected world.
- In a society like the Penan culture, where material accumulation has no meaning, and where everybody can essentially make everything from the raw resources of the forest, wealth is defined explicitly as a strength of social relations between people.
- Colombia is not a place of drugs and violence; it’s a land with the greatest biodiversity, geographical diversity and cultural diversity in the Americas.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Connect with Wade Davis
- Magdalena: River of Dreams by Wade Davis
- The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis
- One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forests by Wade Davis
- Colliding with the Unexpected with Gillian Tett on OutsideVoices Podcast