Essay about Cannibalism

1042 Words 5 Pages

"Cannibalism, or institutionalized anthropophagi, has been part of human culture from the earliest times. Human teeth marks in ancient human bones offer clues cannibalism was commonplace. When Christopher Columbus explored the Americas, the term cannibal was coined after the Caniba, “a ferocious group of man-eaters who lived in the Caribbean islands” (Salisbury, 2001, Brief history . . .). The idea of cannibalism in the New World evoked paranoia in Europe. Any such practice was considered demonic and sacrilegious. Cannibalism was a topic of ancient horror stories. In Greek mythology, “after Thyestes unwittingly ate the flesh of his own children, the Sun was so appalled that he turned back on his course and
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The devouring of enemies and strangers is exocannibalism. Historically, exocannibalism is a bold statement of power. Such a statement is evident in the Iliad when “Achilles shows his extremeness by declaring over the defeated Hector that he wishes his anger would drive him to eat Hector’s body raw” (Hodgkinson, 2001). Julian Evans, a writer for New Statesman, used his personal experience in Indonesia’s Baliem Valley to support his argument that cannibalism is not wrong. Until recently, the Wari’ used both exocannibalism and endocannibalism—the eating of close ones. Beth Ann Conklin, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University who visited the Wari’ tribe, explains the distinct meaning of each form:

Eating enemies was an intentional _expression of anger and disdain for the enemy. But at funerals, when

they consumed members of their own group who died naturally, it was done out of affection and respect

for the dead person and as a way to help survivors cope with their grief (Salisbury, 2001,

Anthropologist’s Amazon research . . .).

Cannibalism is flexibly practiced. With each purpose, the meanings of the ritual change. While cannibalism in battle is gruesome and tortuous, flesh-eating of the close deceased is ceremonious and brings closure to their deaths. Conklin adds, “In the past, the idea of leaving

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