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Monday, December 17, 2007

Cannibalism (from Spanish caníbal, in connection with alleged cannibalism among the Caribs), also called anthropophagy (from Greek anthropos "man" and phagein "to consume") is the act or practice of humans consuming other humans. In zoology, the term cannibalism is extended to refer to any species consuming members of its own kind.
Among humans it has been practiced by various tribal groups in the past in the Amazon Basin, usually in rituals connected to tribal warfare. Fiji was once known as the 'Cannibal Isles'. The Chaco Canyon ruins of the Anasazi culture have been interpreted by some archaeologists as containing evidence of ritual cannibalism.
Care should be taken to distinguish among ritual cannibalism (sanctioned by a cultural norm) from cannibalism by necessity occurring in extreme situations of famine, and cannibalism by mentally disturbed people. There are fundamentally two kinds of cannibalistic social behaviour; endocannibalism and exocannibalism.

Origin of the term
The social stigma against cannibalism has been used as an aspect of propaganda against an enemy by accusing them of acts of cannibalism to separate them from their humanity. New research points to the fact that early man may have practiced cannibalism. Genetic markers commonly found in modern humans all over the world could be evidence that our earliest ancestors were cannibals, according to new research. Scientists suggest that today some people carry a gene that evolved as protection against brain diseases that can be spread by consuming human flesh.

Historical accounts

In Germany some experts like Emil Carthaus and Dr. Bruno Bernhard found 1,891 signs of cannibalism in the caves at the Hönne (BC 1000 - 700).
Cannibalism is reported in the Bible during the siege Samaria (2 Kings 6:25-30). Two women made a pact to eat their children, but after the first mother cooked her child, the second mother ate it but refused to reciprocate by cooking her own child. Almost exactly the same story is reported by Flavius Josephus during the siege of Jerusalem by Rome in 70AD.
Cannibalism was documented in Egypt during a famine caused by the failure of the Nile to flood for eight years (AD 1064-1073).
St. Jerome, in his letter Against Jovinianus, tells of meeting members of a British tribe, the Atticoti, while traveling in Gaul. According to Jerome, the Britons claimed that they enjoyed eating "the buttocks of the shepherds and the breasts of their women" as a delicacy (ca. 360 AD). In 2001, archaeologists at the University of Bristol found evidence of Iron Age cannibalism in Gloucestershire. Early history era

Reports of cannibilism were recorded during the First Crusade. Crusaders fed on the bodies of their dead opponents following the capture of the Arab town of Ma'arrat al-Numan. Amin Maalouf also discusses further cannibalism incidents on the march to Jerusalem, and to the efforts made to delete mention of these from western history. (Amin Maalouf, The Crusades through Arab Eyes. Schocken, 1989, ISBN 0-8052-0898-4).
In Europe during the Great Famine of 1315–1317, at a time when Dante was writing one of the most significant pieces of literature in western history and the Renaissance was just beginning, there were widespread reports of cannibalism throughout Europe. However, many historians have since dismissed these reports as fanciful and ambiguous. The canto 33 of Dante's Inferno ambiguously refers to Ugolino della Gherardesca eating his own sons while starving in prison.
Cannibalism was reported in Mexico, the flower wars of the Aztec Empire being considered as the most massive manifestation of cannibalism, but the Aztec accounts, written after the conquest, reported that human flesh was considered by itself to be of no value, and usually thrown away and replaced with turkey. There are only two Aztec accounts on this subject: one comes from the Ramirez codex, and the most elaborated account on this subject comes from Juan Bautista de Pomar, the grandson of Netzahualcoyotl, tlatoani of Texcoco. The accounts differ little. Juan Bautista wrote that after the sacrifice, the Aztec warriors received the body of the victim, then they boiled it to separate the flesh from the bones, then they would cut the meat in very little pieces, and send them to important people, even from other towns; the recipient would rarely eat the meat, since they considered it an honour, but the meat had no value by itself. In exchange, the warrior would get jewels, decorated blankets, precious feathers and slaves; the purpose was to encourage successful warriors. There were only two ceremonies a year where war captives were sacrificed. Although the Aztec empire has been called "The Cannibal Kingdom", there is no evidence in support of its being a widespread custom.
Aztecs believed that there were man-eating tribes in the south of Mexico; the only illustration known showing an act of cannibalism shows an Aztec being eaten by a tribe from the south (Florentine Codex). In the siege of Tenochtitlan, there was a severe hunger in the city; people reportedly ate lizards, grass, insects, and mud from the lake, but there are no reports on cannibalism of the dead bodies.
The friar Diego de Landa reported about Yucatán instances, Yucatan before and after the Conquest, translated from Relación de las cosas de Yucatan, 1566 (New York: Dover Publications, 1978: 4), and there have been similar reports by Purchas from Popayán, Colombia, and from the Marquesas Islands of Polynesia, where human flesh was called long-pig (Alanna King, ed., Robert Louis Stevenson in the South Seas, London: Luzac Paragon House, 1987: 45-50). It is recorded about the natives of the captaincy of Sergipe in Brazil, They eat human flesh when they can get it, and if a woman miscarries devour the abortive immediately. If she goes her time out, she herself cuts the navel-string with a shell, which she boils along with the secondine, and eats them both. (See E. Bowen, 1747: 532.)]] Middle Ages

In the Dutch rampjaar (disaster year) of 1672, when France and England attacked the republic during the Franco-Dutch War/Third Anglo-Dutch War, Johan de Witt (a significant Dutch political figure) was killed by a shot in the neck; his naked body was hung and mutilated and the heart was carved out to be exhibited. His brother was shot, stabbed, eviscerated alive, hanged naked, brained and partly eaten.
Howard Zinn describes cannibalism by early Jamestown settlers in his book A People's History of the United States.
An event occurring in the western New York territory ("Seneca Country") U.S.A., during 1687 was later described in this letter sent to France: "On the 13th (of July) about four o'clock in the afternoon, having passed through two dangerous defiles (narrow gorges), we arrived at the third where we were vigorously attacked by 800 Senecas, 200 of whom fired, wishing to attack our rear whilst the remainder of their force would attack our front, but the resistance they met produced such a great consternation that they soon resolved to fly. All our troops were so overpowered by the extreme heat and the long journey we had made that we were obliged to bivouac (camp) on the field until the morrow. We witnessed the painful Sight of the usual cruelties of the savages who cut the dead into quarters, as in slaughter houses, in order to put them into the pot (dinner); the greater number were opened while still warm that their blood might be drank. our rascally outaouais (Ottawa Indians) distinguished themselves particularly by these barbarities and by their poltroonery (cowardice), for they withdrew from the combat;..." -- Canadian Governor, the Marquis de Denonville.
In 1729 Jonathan Swift wrote A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, a satirical pamphlet in which he proposed that poor Irish families sell their children to be eaten, thereby earning income for the family. It was written as an attack on the indifference of landlords to the state of their tenants and on the political economists with their calculations on the schemes to raise income.
In New Zealand in 1809, 66 passengers and crew of the ship The Boyd were killed and eaten by Maori on the Whangaroa peninsula, Northland. This was utu (revenge) for the whipping of a Maori who refused to work while traveling on the ship from Australia. This remains the bloodiest mass-murder in New Zealand history, and perhaps the largest death-toll from a cannibalistic act in modern times. See the Boyd massacre.
The survivors of the sinking of the French ship Medusa in 1816 resorted to cannibalism after four days adrift on a raft.
After the sinking of the Whaleship Essex of Nantucket by a whale, on November 20, 1820, (an important source event for Herman Melville's Moby Dick) the survivors, in three small boats, resorted, by common consent, to cannibalism in order for some to survive.
Sir John Franklin's lost polar expedition and the Donner Party are other examples of human cannibalism from the 1840s.
The case of R v. Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273 (QB) is an English case which is said to be one of the origins of the defense of necessity in modern common law. The case dealt with four crewmembers of an English yacht, the Mignonette, which were cast away in a storm some 1600 miles from the Cape of Good Hope. After several days one of the crew fell unconscious due to a combination of the famine and drinking sea-water. The others (one objecting) decided then to kill him and eat him. They were picked up four days later. The fact that not everyone had agreed to draw lots contravened The Custom of the Sea and was held to be murder. At the trial was the first recorded use of the defense of necessity.
In the 1870s, in the U.S. state of Colorado, a man named Alferd Packer was accused of killing and eating his travelling companions. He served fourteen years in prison before being paroled, and throughout his life maintained that he was innocent of the murders. The story of Alfred Packer was satirically told in the Trey Parker comedy/horror/musical film, Cannibal! The Musical, released in 1996 by Troma Studios. The main food court at the University of Colorado at Boulder is named the Alferd Packer Grill. Early modern era

During the 1930s, a lot of acts of cannibalism were reported from the Ukraine during the Holodomor. Modern era
Cannibalism is also sometimes practiced as a last resort by people suffering from famine. In the US, the group of settlers known as the Donner party resorted to cannibalism while snowbound in the mountains for the winter. The last survivors of Sir John Franklin's Expedition were found to have resorted to cannibalism in their final push across King William Island towards the Back River.
Lowell Thomas records the cannibalisation of some of the surviving crew members of the Dumaru after the ship exploded and sank during the First World War in his book, The Wreck of the Dumaru (1930).
Documentary and forensic evidence supports eyewitness accounts of cannibalism by Japanese troops during World War II. This practice was resorted to when food ran out, with Japanese soldiers killing and eating each other when enemy civilians were not available. In other cases, enemy soldiers were executed and then dissected. A well-documented case occurred in Chichi Jima in 1945, when Japanese soldiers killed and ate eight downed American airmen. This case was investigated in 1947 in a war-crimes trial, and of 30 Japanese soldiers prosecuted, five (Maj. Matoba, Gen. Tachibana, Adm. Mori, Capt. Yoshii and Dr. Teraki) were found guilty and hanged.
When Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the Andes on October 13, 1972, the survivors resorted to eating the deceased during their 72 days in the mountains. Their story was later recounted in the books Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors and Miracle in the Andes as well as the film Alive by Frank Marshall and the documentary Alive: 20 Years Later.

Cannibalism by the starving
See also: Blood libel
Unsubstantiated reports of cannibalism disproportionately relate cases of cannibalism among cultures that are already otherwise despised, feared, or are little known. In antiquity, Greek reports of anthropophagy were related to distant, non-Hellenic barbarians, or else relegated in myth to the 'primitive' chthonic world that preceded the coming of the Olympian gods: see the explicit rejection of human sacrifice in the cannibal feast prepared for the Olympians by Tantalus of his son Pelops. In 1994, printed booklets reported that in a Yugoslavian concentration camp of Manjaca the Bosnian refugees were forced to eat each other's bodies. The reports were false.
William Arens, author of The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy (New York : Oxford University Press, 1979; ISBN 0-19-502793-0), questions the credibility of reports of cannibalism and argues that the description by one group of people of another people as cannibals is a consistent and demonstrable ideological and rhetorical device to establish perceived cultural superiority. Arens bases his thesis on a detailed analysis of numerous "classic" cases of cultural cannibalism cited by explorers, missionaries, and anthropologists. His findings were that many were steeped in racism, unsubstantiated, or based on second-hand or hearsay evidence. In combing the literature he could not find a single credible eye-witness account. And, as he points out, the hallmark of ethnography is the observation of a practice prior to description. In the end he concluded that cannibalism was not the widespread prehistoric practice it was claimed to be; that anthropologists were too quick to pin the cannibal label on a group based not on responsible research but on our own culturally-determined pre-conceived notions, often motivated by a need to exoticize. He wrote:
"Anthropologists have made no serious attempt to disabuse the public of the widespread notion of the ubiquity of anthropophagists. … in the deft hands and fertile imaginations of anthropologists, former or contemporary anthropophagists have multiplied with the advance of civilization and fieldwork in formerly unstudied culture areas. …The existence of man-eating peoples just beyond the pale of civilization is a common ethnographic suggestion."
Aren's findings are controversial, and his argument is often mischaracterized as "cannibals do not and never did exist," when in the end the book is actually a call for a more responsible and reflexive approach to anthropological research. At any rate, the book ushered in an era of rigorous combing of the cannibalism literature. By Aren's later admission, some cannibalism claims came up short, others were reinforced.
Conversely, Michel de Montaigne's essay "Of cannibals" introduced a new multicultural note in European civilization. Montaigne wrote that "one calls 'barbarism' whatever he is not accustomed to." By using a title like that and describing a fair indigean society, Montaigne may have wished to provoke a surprise in the reader of his Essays.
Similarly, Japanese scholars (e.g. Kuwabara Jitsuzo) branded the Chinese culture as cannibalistic in certain propagandistic works — which served as ideological justification for the assumed superiority of the Japanese during World War II.

Cannibalism as cultural libel

Main article: Vorarephilia Sexually motivated cannibalism
Cannibalism features prominently in many mythologies; cannibal ogresses appear in folklore around the world, the witch in Hansel and Gretel being a popular example.
A number of stories in Greek mythology involve cannibalism, in particular cannibalism of close family members, for example the stories of Thyestes, Tereus and especially Cronus, who was Saturn in the Roman pantheon. The story of Tantalus also parallels this. These mythologies inspired Shakespeare's cannibalism scene in Titus Andronicus.
According to Catholic dogma, bread and wine are transubstantiated into the real flesh and blood of Jesus (the eucharist), which are then distributed by the priest to the faithful. The accusations of cannibalism made against ancient Christians may reflect earlier versions of such beliefs but should also be understood as a form of libel (see above), expressing anxiety and concern about a new and somewhat secretive religious group. Christians in turn accused their opponents, such as the Gnostic sect of the Borborites, of cannibalism and ritual abuse.
In the Qur'an Backbiters are stigmatized as those who eat the flesh of the dead body of the person they backbit.
In Hindu mythology, cannibals are usually forest-dwellers that refuse to join society and are known as Raksasa. However, there have also been Raksasas such as Ravana, said to be shape-shifting creatures.

Cannibal themes in mythology and religion
It is interesting to note that currently the cheapest source of material from which food grade L-cysteine may be purified in high yield is human hair. Its use in food products is widespread worldwide.
Few people identify the compulsion to gnaw and bite nails or pieces of skin from fingers as cannibalism, because it is not the intentional harvest of a food item. Similarly, intentionally consuming one's own flesh or body parts, such as sucking blood from wounds, is generally not seen to be cannibalism; ingesting one's own blood from an unintentional lesion such as a nose-bleed or an ulcer is clearly not intentional harvesting and consequently not cannibalistic. The consumption of human bodily fluids, such as semen, is also not generally considered cannibalism.
Likewise it has to be questioned whether the practice of some indigenous people from the Americas to consume the bone ashes of their deceased relatives can be considered cannibalistic.
It is possible for some mothers to gain possession of their afterbirth or placenta once their child is born. Some people eat this placenta material as a delicacy. See placentophagy.
There are many accounts of drinking urine and coprophagia. These may be toward fetishistic, allegedly homeopathic, or survival-based ends. Aboard space flights and the International Space Station, urine is regularly filtered for drinking water.

Non-cannibalistic consumption of human-derived substances

Main article: Cannibalism (zoology) Non-human cannibalism
The term cannibalism is also used to describe the salvaging of useful items from one system as replacement parts on similar systems.
As an example, an airline company has 15 aircraft, one of which is currently in an AOG (aircraft on ground) state. A plane in AOG status earns no revenue for the company. If a second aircraft suddenly needs repairs, the company's maintenance department may (due to lead time for part replacement) elect to "cannibalize" (salvage) the needed part(s) from the current AOG plane so as to avoid having two non-functioning planes.

Cannibalism Animal cannibalism

Albert Fish
Saturn Devouring His Son
Alexander "Sawney" Bean, the head of a mythical Scottish family of 48 who murdered and cannibalized over 1000 people.
Alferd Packer, a Colorado cannibal
Androphagi or Anthropophagi, an ancient nation of cannibals
Armin Meiwes
Asmat people
Boyd Massacre, where indigenous Māori of New Zealand, killed and ate crew members of a ship that flogged the son of a chief
Child cannibalism
Donner Party, a group of people who resorted to cannibalism when snowbound.
Hufu, a vegetarian human flesh substitute
Issei Sagawa
Jeffrey Dahmer
Kuru (disease)
Liver-Eating Johnson
Michael Rockefeller - son of New York governor Nelson Rockefeller whose disappearance off the coast of New Guinea after an accident in 1961 led to media speculation that he might have been killed by cannibals.
Oswald de Andrade, Cannibal Manifesto
The Rooseboom, cannibalism and murder at sea during the Second World War.
Self-cannibalism, also autophagy, the practice of eating one's own body.
Sumanto, an Indonesian cannibal.
Tobias Schneebaum, American anthropologist and artist who lived with cannibalistic tribes in South America and New Guinea
Wendigo refers to a mythical malevolent supernatural creature whose physical deformities suggest starvation and frostbite; and personifies the hardships of winter and the taboo of cannibalism.
Vorarephilia - the interest or paraphilia in which a person fantasizes about eating another person and/or creature, being eaten him/herself, and/or watching another be eaten.

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