An interview with Wade Davis, Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist

In this episode, Davis talks to Chris and Ken about logging and culture in Latin America, being the architect of your life, his upcoming book Magdalena: River of Dreams, and more.



Global Americans and the Canadian Council for the Americas present “Two Gringos with Questions,” an interview series featuring political and cultural leaders from across the Americas.

In this episode, Wade Davis, Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist, joins the Two Gringos with Questions podcast. Davis talks to hosts Chris and Ken about logging and culture in Latin America, being the architect of your life, his upcoming book Magdalena: River of Dreams, and more.

Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker, most known for his work on indigenous cultures, and more specifically those in North and South America. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. His latest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams will be out in September, 2020.

Davis was Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society (NGS) from 2000 to 2013. In recent years his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland.

Through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent over three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among fifteen indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations. 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. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the NGS.

Davis, one of 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, is the recipient of 11 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.

He has published over 200 scientific and popular articles on subjects ranging from Haitian vodoun and Amazonian myth and religion to the global biodiversity crisis, the traditional use of psychotropic drugs, and the ethnobotany of South American Indians. Davis has written for National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and numerous other international publications.

Davis has worked as a logger, forestry engineer, white water guide, park ranger and hunting guide. He holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University.

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