The Anthropology of Cannibalism
AUTHOR: Laurence R. Goldman
PUBLISHER: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
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Using new case data from South American, Australian, and Papua New Guinean societies, the authors explore how cultural ideas for humanity are reflected in seemingly universal understandings of our potential for anthropophagy. Whether or not a society actually practices cannibalism, these conceptions are often articulated at the level of folklore and myth, where flesh-eating is imbued with symbolic meanings centered on ideas about regeneration after death, the equivalence between human flesh and food, and the morality of social exchange in and between groups. Thus, cannibalism emerges at once as a resource for political agendas that perpetuate ethnic stereotypes of exotic others; a cultural practice capable of expressing violent suppression as well as transforming death into a life-sustaining process; and a theme whose horrific potentiality engenders baleful monsters and myths for public delectation as well as child control.
Cannibalism exists in folklore traditions as the definition of the antithesis of socially accepted morality, as well as something that in practice was a conduit for the regeneration and reproduction of positive values. Cannibalism is seen as bound up with the commerce of exchange between people intent on defining their economic and political worlds in and through symbols. This book is a major milestone, providing a valuable set of correctives for both the academic discourse on cannibalism as well as the wider conventional beliefs about the topic.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/30/1999
CATEGORY: Social Science