Life At a Distance

Life At a Distance

The famous ethnographer Pierre Verger combined both skills, producing photo-books on South America and the “African diaspora” (read: slave trade, which had one of its bases in Brazil). He also captured Cuba, Peru, Bolivia and immersed himself in their cultures, so much so that he adapted the name “Fatumbi” (“He who is reborn”) and was initiated in the mysteries of the “babalao” (very much like our own babaylan or shamans.)

Born in Paris in 1902, he became enthralled with anthropology — as did most French intellectuals of the 1930s. He was sent to Shanghai as a journalist to cover the war and instead found himself fascinated, on a short side trip, by the Philippines in 1934.  He would return in 1937 to travel the country from Ifugao to Sitankai, which he described as its last island in the south.

Downtown Manila (1937-1938): The Tabacalera Building, “in the style of the Alhambra of Cordoba”

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