Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer Wade Davis talks about his latest work Magdalena, the River of Dreams, about the Magdalena River in Colombia. His memoir braids together history and journalism, adventure through a spectacular landscape and a kaleidoscopic picture of Colombia’s complex past, present and future.
The Jan Morris Lecture is a space to celebrate the legacy of this great voyager, historian and journalist, and to listen to fascinating stories about the most significant landscapes around the world, through the work of great travel writers.
Anna Fleming’s Time on Rock: A Climber’s Route into the Mountains charts her progress from terrified beginner to confident lead climber, and the way in which learning to climb offered a new relationship with both the landscape and herself. She describes how climbing invites us into the history of a place: geologically, of course, but also culturally, delving into what it’s like to be a woman in such a male-dominated world – and the ways in which the climbing community is trying to shift that balance.
Poet and novelist Helen Mort’s A Line Above the Sky is a love letter to losing oneself in physicality, whether climbing a mountain or bringing a child into the world. Melding memoir and nature writing to ask why humans are drawn to danger, and how we can find freedom in pushing our limits, she examines attitudes to women who take risks, particularly once they become mothers, and questions who their ‘body’ belongs to. Helen’s own story is haunted by the life of Alison Hargreaves who died on K2, having gone against convention by refusing to give up her career as a professional mountaineer after having children.
The Arctic treeline, which encircles the north of the globe in an almost unbroken ring, is the frontline of climate change, where the trees – Scots pine, birch, larch, spruce, poplar and rowan – have been creeping towards the pole for 50 years already. The author has travelled through Scotland, northern Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, witnessing the impact of climate change and the devastating legacies of colonialism and capitalism. But he also finds reasons for hope. Humans are creatures of the forest; we have evolved with trees. Rawlence asks where our co-evolution might take us next, underpinned by an urgent environmental message. In conversation with journalist, Nicola Cutcher.