Dentist-turned-photographer Phil Borges documents the world's disappearing cultures, capturing portraits of exiled Tibetan monks and many of the world’s embattled tribal and indigenous cultures.

Why you should listen

Spurred by the rapid disappearance of the world's indigenous peoples and their oral traditions, Phil Borges abandoned his orthodontic practice to pursue his first love, photography. For the past 25 years, he has traveled to the farthest reaches of the globe to meet with persecuted Tibetan monks engaged in nonviolent struggle and embattled tribespeople of the Ecuadorian Amazon who must defend their way of life by any means necessary. Through interviews and portraiture, Borges examines his subjects' valuable beliefs and stories and documents their tribulations with dignity.

He is the founder of Bridges to Understanding, an interactive online classroom that promotes cross-cultural learning between indigenous and American youths. By teaching teenagers how to share stories through digital filmmaking, Borges hopes they'll develop the mental flexibility and cultural sensitivity to understand and appreciate belief systems outside their own. Borges' feature-length documentary, CRAZYWISE, takes a look at America’s mental health care crisis and examines what we could learn from the way different cultures define and treat mental illness.

What others say

“Phil Borges' images, filled with dignity, often are reminiscent of portraits of nobility by Velázquez. ... The photographer imbues images of children with the respect and compassion he believes they deserve, yet too seldom receive.” — OC Weekly

Phil Borges’ TED talk

More news and ideas from Phil Borges

Web-based ways to make a difference

January 1, 2008

To help those of us making resolutions this week, here is a sampling of web tools for making a difference, inspired by TEDTalks speakers: + Share Ron Eglash‘s cool math tools, for studying math via breakdancing, Latin beats and cornrow braids + Dive into Richard Baraniuk‘s Connexions, a massive repository of open-source class materials + […]

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Phil Borges Reception in San Francisco

November 12, 2007

If you happen to be in the Bay Area Wednesday night, November 14, TED2006 Speaker Phil Borges has a gallery reception in San Francisco and you’re invited: FiftyCrows Gallery 49 Geary Street, Second Floor, Suite 225 From 6 PM to 9 PM. An RSVP is required, send an email to Here the flyer:

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