By Gananath Obeyesekere
During this radical reexamination of the thought of cannibalism, Gananath Obeyesekere bargains a desirable and convincing argument that cannibalism is generally "cannibal talk," a discourse at the different engaged in by means 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 ecu touch and colonization, Obeyesekere deconstructs Western eyewitness debts, rigorously reading 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 restricted types of cannibalism may have happened in Polynesian societies, they have been principally in reference to human sacrifice and conducted via a decide on neighborhood in well-defined sacramental rituals. Cannibal speak considers how the colonial intrusion produced a posh self-fulfilling prophecy wherein the myth of cannibalism turned a truth as natives from time to time started to consume either Europeans and their very own enemies in acts of "conspicuous anthropophagy."
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Extra resources for Cannibal Talk: The Man-eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas
For Cook the experiment was a success: “That the New Zealanders are Canibals can now no longer be doubted, the account I gave of it in my former Voyage was partly founded on circumstances and was, as I afterwards found, discredited by many people” (Cook B 2, 294). ”14 I think her interpretation of the Maori response is correct but not her interpretation of the experiment as a spoof. It is true that Clerke was given to practical jokes sometimes of a sadistic sort, but humor did not necessarily negate the idea that Clerke was engaged in an experiment, even if one understands that these experiments were not our modern ones.
Indeed the meagre appearance of some of our crew, the hearty appetites with which we sat down to their fresh provisions, and our great anxiety to purchase, and carry them oﬀ, as much as we were able, led them, naturally enough, to such a conclusion” (Cook D 3, 26). 4 Here was a ragged, ﬁlthy, half-starved bunch of people arriving on their island, gorging themselves on food and asking questions about cannibalism. Since Hawaiians did not know that the British inquiry was a scientiﬁc hypothesis, they must be forgiven for making the practical inference that these hungry people asking questions about cannibalism were cannibals themselves and might actually eat the Hawaiians.
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. ” “She replied that if that were the case, she had never beheld it, for such was the construction of her farthingale that her head could not be thrown back without impairing its set.