Wade Davis (USA)

Written on May 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm, by Carlos

Anthropologist,  Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society

‘The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World’ (November 30, 3.30pm)

Wade Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. Named by the 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.” 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.

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly 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 while making some 6000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing Passage of Darkness (1988) and The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), an international best seller later released by Universal as a motion picture.

[youtube width=”310″ height=”187″]http://youtu.be/Fob2pV03ArQ[/youtube]

[vimeo width=”310″ height=”174″]http://vimeo.com/36351483[/vimeo]

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Dr Iain McGilchrist (UK)

Written on May 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm, by Carlos

Iain McGilchrist

Author: The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Deep Conversation:
‘Now to Next: How will Science and Technology help solve our wicked problems?’ (November 28, 7.00-9.30pm)
Why things are not what they seem: the courage to think differently (November 30, 3.30pm)

Iain was a Research Fellow in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. He has published original articles and research papers in a wide range of publications on topics in literature, medicine and psychiatry.  His latest book, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, published by Yale in November 2009, explores the way in which the bihemispheric structure of the brain influences our understanding of the world.

A vast body of research reveals that the brains of birds and mammals, including humans, have evolved to enable us to apply two equally necessary, but mutually incompatible, types of attention to the world.  One is sharply focused, but narrow, certain already of what it will find; the other is broad, open, and receptive to whatever it may find, without preconception. So difficult is it to combine these types of attention in one brain that they have been sequestered to the two distinct cerebral hemispheres. It is the left hemisphere that provides instrumental attention, enabling us to get and manipulate, by focusing sharply on narrowly conceived detail.

It is the right hemisphere that provides what one might call relational attention, enabling us to see the whole picture, to form social bonds, to inhabit and belong to the world we see, rather than simply being detached from it and using it.

Over time there is a tendency for the view of the left hemisphere to entrench itself: it is simpler, more explicit, ignores what does not fit its paradigm and makes us powerful manipulators.  But the price is a baffled incredulity when the world does not seem to work the way it would predict.  The costs include widespread despoliation of the planet, empty consumerism, a belief in theory at the expense of experience and an unwarranted optimism as we shuffle like a sleepwalker towards the abyss.

[youtube width=”260″ height=”166″]http://youtu.be/SbUHxC4wiWk[/youtube]

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Li Cunxin

Written on May 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm, by Carlos

Li Cunxin

Li is Mao’s Last Dancer

Mao’s last dancer: lessons of creativity and courage (November 30, 3.30pm)

Li Cunxin’s journey is simply remarkable. He was born into utter poverty in Mao’s communist China, at a very young age he was selected to train in Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. So began Li’s journey. The 7 years of harsh training regime at the Beijing Dance Academy taught him discipline, resilience, determination and creativity. Li’s astounding drive and relentless hard work made him one of the best dancers in the world. He won numerous prestigious dance awards including the Princess Grace Award for Dance, two silver medals at international ballet competitions and the Green Room Award for Best Male Dancer.

The inspirational story of Li’s life is recounted in his memoir Mao’s Last Dancer, which quickly rose to No. 1 on the Australian Non-Fiction Best-Seller List and won the Book of the Year Award in Australia and receiving the Christopher Award for Literature in the USA. It went on to become an international bestseller. It’s in the 52nd reprint and sold in over 30 countries. Mao’s Last Dancer is now a blockbuster film.

Li’s experiences are real, his journey is incredible and he is a living example of overcoming adversity and achieving excellence in life.

[youtube width=”310″ height=”240″]http://youtu.be/sMzQ0S2Agnc[/youtube]

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