Light at the Edge of the World

Light at the Edge of the World

4.18 (490 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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For more than 25 years, renowned anthropologist and plant explorer, Wade Davis has travelled the world, studying the mysteries of sacred plants and celebrating the people who cultivate and use them. His passion as an ethnobotanist has brought him to the very heart of indigenous life in places as remote and diverse as the Canadian Arctic, the deserts of North Africa, the rainforests of Borneo and the Amazon, the swamps of Orinoco and the surreal cultural landscape of Haiti. In this title, Wade Davis presents 80 images from the many thousands of photographs he has taken over the course of his explorations. Setting the photographs in context, his evocative text looks at the ethnosphere (the wealth of human diversity) and what traditional cultures have to teach us about different ways of living and thinking - and shows us how the dangers facing the ethnosphere could diminish us more

Product details

  • Hardback | 179 pages
  • 256 x 264 x 12mm | 1,102.24g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 80 Colour Photographs
  • 0747557543
  • 9780747557548
  • 920,759

Review Text

This book reproduces an extraordinary collection of ethnographic photographs taken by the author over a 25-year period. Some are of ceremonies, such as a Brazilian ritual in honour of the goddess Yemenja or the immersions of voudoun adepts in the mud of the Haitian Plains du Nord. Others feature striking individual faces, a Nepalese saddhu, or an Inuit couple, snug inside their furs, the late-afternoon sun illuminating their serene expressions as they gaze out over their newly protected homeland. A third type of photograph emphasizes the dramas of landscape, rock, river, desert and forest or the interaction of human beings with the rest of nature. Striking examples here are the Kenyan warrior crouching behind the rich russet back of his cow and the fragility of a yak train set against the awesome peaks of the Himalayas. On the visual level alone, this book is well worth possessing. But as well as showing us pictures, the author attempts to explain the meaning and purpose of anthropology for its practitioners. He himself is interested in ethnobotany, the study of the use of plants in different societies, and has a passionate feeling for ethnography, the attempt to explain in writing the core identity of a tribal group. Davis strives in his writing to suggest the soul of those he studies. Non-judgementally descriptive when it comes to conveying the attitudes and customs of a variety of peoples, his personal feeling surfaces when he offers the reader certain facts: that there have been, for example, 10,000 human languages, of which only 600 are well preserved, and 300 spoken by more than a million people. For Davis, this is a diminution of cultural diversity no less lamentable than the extinction of plants and animals. This is a beautiful, eloquent book, packed with visual and verbal information. (Kirkus UK)show more

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490 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 40% (197)
4 40% (198)
3 18% (86)
2 1% (6)
1 1% (3)
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