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Collaboration about Mobile says something important about sense of place

The book Why We Are Here came about with the meeting of two great minds.

Entranced by naturalist Edward O. Wilson’s mesmerizing evocation of his Southern childhood in The Naturalist and Anthill, photographer Alex Harris approached the scientist about collaborating on a book about Wilson’s native world of Mobile, Alabama.

With the idea that Mobile is a city small enough to be captured through a lens, yet old enough to have experienced a full epic cycle of tragedy and rebirth, the photographer and the naturalist joined forces to capture the rhythms of this storied Alabama Gulf region through a swirling tango of lyrical words and striking images.

With Wilson tracing his family’s history from the Civil War through the Depression—when mule-driven wagons still clogged the roads—to Mobile’s racial and environmental struggles to its cultural triumphs today, and with Harris capturing the mood of a radically transformed city that has adapted to the twenty-first century, the book becomes a universal story, one that tells us where we all come from and why we are here.

“A hybrid document meant to be as much about the meaning of place as it is about a place itself…”
a review in Publisher’s Weekly put it.

The two men will visit in New Orleans on Monday to talk about the collaboration. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, in Dixon Hall on the Tulane University campus. The public is invited to attend.


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