Wade Davis

in conversation with Don George

Recorded Sunday, September 20th, 2020

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Wade Davis in conversation with Don George

Saturday, September 20th, 2020

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Wade Davis’ inspiring tale of hope and redemption, Magdalena: River of Dreams, braids together memoir, history, and journalism to form both a rare, kaleidoscopic picture of Colombia’s most magnificent river and the epic story of a nation on the verge of a new period of peace.

Wade is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia.

Author of 22 books, including One River, The Wayfinders, and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the NGS.

Wade, one of 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees, as well as the 2009 Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the 2011 Explorers Medal, the 2012 David Fairchild Medal for botanical exploration, the 2015 Centennial Medal of Harvard University, the 2017 Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s Distinguished Explorer Award, the 2017 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, and the 2018 Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018, he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia.

Don George is an editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, as well as host of the National Geographic Live series of conversations with notable authors. In four decades as a travel writer and editor, Don has visited more than 90 countries on five continents. He has traveled throughout—and written extensively about—Europe and Asia. He has also lived in France, Greece, and Japan, working as a translator in Paris, a teacher in Athens, and a television talk show host in Tokyo. Don is the author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, and has received dozens of writing awards, including the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year Award.

The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”

Wade Davis.

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  • 5

    votes

    What is the research process like for you when you are traveling? Do you ever struggle with wanting to be in the moment vs documenting/ taking notes?

  • 5

    votes

    How can we decolonialize the concept of knowledge?

  • 4

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    Why is the loss of language so important? What drew you to study this ?

  • 4

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    How long have you been working on the ethnosphere project as an idea?

  • 3

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    Other than “one day it was there”, can you offer insight into how and when our species, and our progenitors, came to a conscious awareness of the seen and unseen nature of the world and a sense of the transcendent nature of life.

  • 2

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    What is the last thing you saw or read that moved you?

  • 2

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    As a Colombian, I always admire how others are able to tell the story of Colombia past the civil war and darkest of times. Do you believe Colombia (past the peace treaty signed) has the potential to start a new chapter in peace?

  • 2

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    What does being an ethnobotanist entail? What drew you to this specialization?

  • 2

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    What is the biggest takeaway from “Magdalena: River of Dreams”? What inspired you to research this area in particular?

  • 2

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    Who in your field do you look to for inspiration?

  • 2

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    What are you working on now?

  • 2

    votes

    How has the pandemic impacted you, as an explorer?

  • 1

    votes

    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 1

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    Rivers occur so often in your life and work. What is it about rivers that attract you?

  • 1

    votes

    Talk about your feelings about editing your memoir please.

  • 1

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    If you went back to Colombia, what other areas would you like to explore?

  • 0

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    Can you elaborate more on your article that was recently published in Rolling Stones magazine that discusses COVID 19 and the end of an American era.