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Well-traveled Sellwood author publishes third book

Photo Credit: RITA A. LEONARD - Author Edith Mirante holds a bamboo comb made by Southeast Asian tribal artisans - described in her new travel book, The Wind in the Bamboo: A Journey in Search of Asias Negrito Indigenous Peoples. Sellwood author Edith Mirante has just published her third travel book. Focused on the life of a little-known tribal race settled in India and the Philippines, the 289-page work is entitled, “The Wind in the Bamboo: A Journey in Search of Asia’s ‘Negrit’ Indigenous Peoples”. Mirante has traveled frequently to that area to learn about local native populations and their culture.

On November 19 at 7 pm, the World Affairs Council of Oregon will present Mirante's slide show on lesser tribes struggling to survive and maintain their cultural identity as minorities. These “Negritos” survive as forest hunter-gatherers in Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Andaman Islands. They were once classified as a separate race, possibly descended from a first wave of migration out of Africa to Asia in prehistoric times.

Mirante has roamed Asia for over thirty years, exploring human rights and environmental issues. She has testified in international courts of law on these topics, and has been a speaker at national conferences of Amnesty International, Rainforest Action Network, the Society of Women Geographers, and at universities from coast to coast. She has also contributed book chapters and encyclopedia articles about Southeast Asia, human rights, and deforestation.

This keen cultural observer was educated at Sarah Lawrence, where she earned her B.A. She developed an interest in Asian ethnicities early on, and was able to pursue her passion through independent travels and paid lectures. She founded a website, www.projectmaje.org, an information project about Burma, which was chosen as a link by the website of National Geographic in connection with her research on the “sea gypsies” of Burma.

Mirante generally travels for a couple of months, and then spends several years of research and writing. She has worked part-time in the Multnomah County Library, where you may have seen her. She bases her books on general travel adventures, rather than on academic study, and maintains a keen interest in unacknowledged cultures and their concerns. Mirante learns much about these simpler cultures, who leave a minimal footprint on the Earth.

Mirante enjoys exploring migration routes of various cultures, and feels compelled to advocate for and tell the stories of under-represented tribal people. By exploring their extant lives and environments, she says, we can learn much about the multi-faceted world in which we live.

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