The discourse of cannibalism, which began in the encounter between Europe and the Americas, became a defining feature of the colonial experience in the New World, especially in the Pacific. The idea of exoticism, like that of the primitive, is also a Western construct linked to the exploring/conquering/cataloguing impulse of colonialism. We now live in a world where those we once called exotic live among us, defining their own identities, precluding our ability to define ourselves in opposition to “others” and to represent our own culture as universal. This chapter reviews anthropological approaches to cannibalism and suggests that we may now be in a position to exorcise the stigma associated with the notion of the primitive. If we reflect on the reality of cannibal practices among ourselves as well as others, we can contribute to dislodging the savage/civilized opposition that was once essential to the formation of the modern Western self and Western forms of knowledge.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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