Wade Davis, Canada’s real-life Indiana Jones


No, I did not come up with that title on my own. It is the title of an interview with Wade Davis in a Canadian newspaper. A bit over-the-top, I would say, but maybe it’s jealousy, although my ambitions run more to Lara Croft. How would “Lisa Paravisini, Puerto Rico’s real-life Lara Croft” sound? Nah.

Wade, whose name is associated with research on the phenomenom of zombification in Haiti, sat down for an interview with a writer with a bad case of explorer worship. Here are some excerpts. You can access the complete article (if you succumb to the urge) through the link below.  

On a recent Thursday afternoon, a man stops on the sidewalk outside the Royal Ontario Museum, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a business card adorned with the National Geographic insignia:

“Wade Davis, Ph. D.,” it reads. “Explorer-in-Residence.”

Wade Davis has been described as a real-life Indiana Jones; a globe-trotting adventurer who is equally at home researching voodoo in the slums of Haiti, travelling down tributaries of the Amazon River, or criss-crossing the Pacific Ocean in a catamaran. His work — books, films, television shows — takes him around the world; he flew in from Peru the day we meet, and was in the Middle East the week before that, filming a documentary. A nomadic scientist, his curiosity leads him to some of the most remote, dangerous, or awe-inspiring places on the planet.

For the past two weeks, however, Mr. Davis has been travelling across Canada delivering the 2009 CBC Massey Lectures.

The companion book, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, was recently nominated for the Writers’ Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize.

. . .

His first break came in 1985, with the publication of The Serpent and the Rainbow, an exploration of voodoo and zombie culture in Haiti, later made into a terrible horror movie.

He could have spent his whole career as an expert on the subject –a zombieologist, he jokes -but he’s never been content to specialize in one field.

“I’ve always worked by the adage [of Marshall McCluhan]: If it works, it’s obsolete,” he says.

“There’s always someone telling you why you can’t do something. You’re from British Columbia, how can you go to Harvard? Wait a minute: you’re supposed to study history, how can you study anthropology? You’re an anthropologist, what do you mean you’re going to go study plants in the Amazon? Wait a minute: you’re an Amazon botanist, how can you study voodoo? Wait a minute, you’re a voodoo expert, you had a bestseller, what do you mean you’re going to go to Borneo? As soon as I feel shackled in an orthodoxy, I generally try something very different.”

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2165993#ixzz0Vgj68fSG

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