Review: Archipelago of Hope by Gleb Raygorodetsky

Gleb has written a necessary book. In it he has distilled a lifetime of experience and many years of academic research.

Archipelago of Hope points us in a new direction at a time when our need for a new direction has become more than urgent. Modern concerns, the big question of anthropogenic ecosystem collapse and the threats to our civilisation of business-as-usual economics meet the perspectives of cultures whose core business has always been the stewardship of the land.

The author’s personal life-story and the narrative of concern for the planet are unassumingly interwoven in a manner that leaves no doubt as to the importance of what we might call ‘grassroots or humanitarian storytelling’. By focussing on the life and practices of indigenous communities from Lapland to Northern Thailand, from British Columbia to the Amazon Basin, from the Russian Arctic to the glaciers of Central Asia, and in particular on the conversations he himself has had with these communities over the course of many years of travel, Gleb presents a discourse of common concern in the shared plight of the planet which is still very much on the fringes of what we are wont to call civilisation, and woefully so.

There is heartache, outrage, anxiety in the accounts of environmental devastation experienced by the indigenous peoples Gleb visits in these pages, but also hope and possibly inspiration to be had from witnessing their responses to the challenges we face.

This is a thought-provoking piece of storytelling that remains gracious in its implied contentiousness. The style is lucid and grounded in observation, but also tender, spacious and engaging. A must for any concerned human being.

 

archipelago of hope

The Archipelago of Hope: wisdom and resilience from the edge of climate change (Pegasus, 2017)

 

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