Providing antique cultures with the newest technologies in order to save century old traditions. Though the thought of saving the old by bringing in the new may seem a bit odd, it's the method National Geographic's Chris Rainier proposes.
Rainier will present his "Cultures on the Edge: The Race Against Time to Help Empower Traditional Cultures" lecture Sunday at 2 p.m. in McClung Museum.
Best known as one of the leading documentary photographers currently in the field, Rainier has photographed on all seven continents. He focuses on documenting indigenous peoples throughout the world with film; from New Guinea to Africa, Rainier captures images of people rarely viewed by the rest of the planet.
"I'm going to spend the rest of my life putting on film their traditions, their costumes, their cultures before we lose it forever," Rainier tells those visiting his website.
The issue of losing what the photojournalist refers to as "natural resources" is the main topic of his lecture. Rainier's solution lies in encouraging social media and technology so that indigenous peoples can communicate globally the issues threatening the communities that they live in.
"More and more, this is a world where you don't exist unless you're online, and you don't have access to information, to education, to empowerment, to women's issues, to job opportunities, unless you're connected," Rainier told the New York Times in July.
Rainier will accompany the lecture with his award-winning photography displaying aspects of native cultures and religion through means of body art and ceremonial dress.
"His work is absolutely astounding," said Ronald Foresta, professor in UT's Department of Geography.
"Cultures on the Edge" comes as a part of McClung Museum's 50th anniversary lecture series.
The series is purposed to bring in multiple speakers to lecture on topics related to exhibits already on display in the museum. The lecture directly relates to McClung's mission to expose and educate the public on cultures around the world. The museum contains numerous exhibits displaying cultures on the verge of disappearing just as Rainier discusses.
"We're thrilled to have Chris Rainier at the museum this Sunday for our 50th anniversary lecture series," said Catherine Shteynberg, assistant curator in McClung Museum. "In addition to creating stunning photographs of his travels around the world, Mr. Rainier has dedicated his career to helping indigenous communities document and preserve their traditions.
"From photo and travel enthusiasts, to anthropologists, to people interested in cultures around the world, I think that his talk will really appeal to almost anyone."
The lecture will bring up key cultural anthropology aspects as well as an insight into the development of global communications.
"An Ethiopian priest, after his first prayers and before the morning light falls on his computer, will be emailing his Shaman friend in Asia," Rainier told National Geographic Live.
The event will be followed by a lecture on Egyptian animal mummification by Salima Ikram, Ph.D, on Oct. 15 and an additional talk on plant-eating dinosaurs in our region by Marc R. Spencer, Ph.D, on Oct. 27.
All three events are free to the public and no reservations are needed to attend.