Ep. 64: Magdalena - Anthropology, Ethnobotany & Colombia's River of Dreams (feat. Wade Davis)


Wade Davis is Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Between 2000 and 2013 he served as Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and was named by NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium. He has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.” His work has taken him to unique biomes across the world including East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland. An ethnographer, writer, photographer and filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making some 6000 botanical collections. Davis is the author of 320 scientific and popular articles and 23 books and as a professional speaker for 30 years, has lectured at over 200 universities and 250 corporations and professional associations.  One of only 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, his incredible list of awards, medals and accolades would warrant its own podcast. We’ve connected here today to introduce our audience to this incredible explorer, give some of his background and dive into his newest work about one of the most biodiverse and culturally relevant countries in the world – Colombia and it’s great river the Magdalena.  

Topics Covered:  

  • Anthropological and Ethnobotanical Influences at Harvard  
  • Richard Evans Schultes & David Maybury-Lewis  
  • Cross-Disciplinary Importance of Anthropology  
  • Emergence of Concepts of Conservation & Biodiversity   
  • Magical, Animated Worldview vs. Inert, Material Worldview  
  • Indigenous Shaman as Natural Philosopher  
  • Psychedelic Renaissance  
  • Colombia & the Magdalena River  
  • Scale & Impact of Cocaine Trade on Colombia  
  • Colombia's Ongoing Civil War  
  • Enshrining Indigenous & Environmental Rights  
  • Coca - Divine Leaf of Immortality  
  • Colombia’s Outrageous Biodiversity  
  • Resiliency of Colombian People  
  • Hopes for the Book & Future of Colombia  

Episode Resources:  

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