Cannibal Talk: The Man-eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in by Gananath Obeyesekere

By Gananath Obeyesekere

During this radical reexamination of the proposal of cannibalism, Gananath Obeyesekere deals a desirable and convincing argument that cannibalism is usually "cannibal talk," a discourse at the different engaged in by way of either indigenous peoples and colonial intruders that leads to occasionally humorous and occasionally lethal cultural misunderstandings. Turning his willing intelligence to Polynesian societies within the early classes of eu touch and colonization, Obeyesekere deconstructs Western eyewitness debts, rigorously interpreting their origins and treating them as a species of fiction writing and seamen's yarns. Cannibalism is much less a social or cultural truth than a mythic illustration of eu writing that displays even more the realities of ecu societies and their fascination with the perform of cannibalism, he argues. And whereas very constrained varieties of cannibalism may need happened in Polynesian societies, they have been mostly in reference to human sacrifice and performed by means of a pick out group in well-defined sacramental rituals. Cannibal speak considers how the colonial intrusion produced a fancy self-fulfilling prophecy wherein the delusion of cannibalism grew to become a fact as natives every now and then started to consume either Europeans and their very own enemies in acts of "conspicuous anthropophagy."

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Additional resources for Cannibal Talk: The Man-eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas

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When this morning it rose and touched the wave, I pushed my shallop from its golden beach and hither sailed before its level rays. ” M steps back to see the effect of his speech while the chiefs converse among themselves. He then “returned to the charge” and, in order to impress them further, adds: “The gentle Yillah was a seraph from the sun; Samoa I had picked off a reef in my route from that orb; and as for the Skyeman [Jarl], why, as his name imported, he came from above. In a word we were all strolling divinities” (M, 148).

Cook D 3, 69). Lono is one of the great Hawaiian gods, and we now know that Hawaiians addressed Cook in this fashion. According to myths constructed in London and other cities in Europe and America, this is a reference to the god Lono, now manifest as Cook, who has the perverse habit (normally associated with some of us South Asians believing in reincarnation) of eternally returning after he is dead and gone. Now let me examine the full account of the event by Lieutenant King. Naturally the ship’s officers were appalled at the sight of the grisly object, but they soon overcame this because as the first modern ethnographers they were imbued with a keen scientific curiosity.

But “they manifested not the slightest surprise, one of them incidentally observing however, that the eclipses there must be a sad bore to endure” (M, 337). Later, on this same island, he meets an old lady and her daughters named A, I, and O, who wear terribly large farthingales. Because he finds it difficult to talk to all three “polysyllables” as a collectivity, he discreetly centers his remarks on O. “Thinking she might be curious concerning the sun, he made some remote allusion to that luminary as the place of his nativity.

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