Anthropology and the Man-Eating Myth

Gananath Obeyesekere

in Cannibal Talk

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520243071
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520938311 | DOI:
Anthropology and the Man-Eating Myth

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This chapter discusses cannibalism, which is argued to have little empirical basis. It is argued that savage cannibalism is an imputation of the Other—a colonial projection providing justification of colonialism, proselytism, conquest, and extermination of native peoples. This refers to “Orientalism” or “savagism.” The first section of the chapter discusses the emergence of modern cannibalism. While the idea of cannibalism started in the Greek period, modern cannibalism emerged into the European consciousness with the voyages of Columbus and the opening of the New World to Europeans. The second section of the chapter discusses the theme of cannibalism as the dread of the man-eating Other. It notes the association of cannibalism to savagism, and its opposition to civilization.

Keywords: cannibalism; savage cannibalism; colonial projection; colonialism; modern cannibalism; European consciousness; savagism; man-eating Other

Chapter.  9571 words.  Illustrated.

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