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Andean Textile Arts presents: “Coca: Divine Leaf of Immortality?” with guest speaker Wade Davis
Coca is not cocaine, and to equate the leaf with the raw alkaloid is as misguided as suggesting that the delicious flesh of a peach is equivalent to the hydrogen cyanide found in every peach pit. Yet, for nearly a century, this has been precisely the legal and political position of nations and international organizations throughout the world.

In Peru, programs to eliminate the traditional fields, supported by the United States, began 50 years before a black-market trade in the drug existed. The real issue was not cocaine but, rather, the cultural identity and survival of those who traditionally revered coca. Coca, as consumed by indigenous peoples for nearly 8000 years, is a mild and benign stimulant that is beneficial to the health and highly nutritious, with no evidence of toxicity or addiction. In the Andes, to chew coca, to hallpay, is to transcend self and become part of the social, moral and spiritual nexus that gives meaning to life. Efforts to deny Runakuna access to the leaves, to eradicate the traditional fields, are policies of cultural genocide.

About Wade Davis
Wade Davis is a cultural anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. 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.

Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany. 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.

Sep 13, 2022 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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