Thursday, January 17, 2008

Odd lunchtime subject

I really hope, but of course don't dare promise, to blog about Afghanistan this weekend.

Meanwhile, I found this odd article on my lunch break today, a scholarly essay on the subject of human cannabalism.

"Cannibalism is a difficult topic for an anthropologist to write about, for it pushes the limits of cultural relativism, challenging one to define what is or is not beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior," writes Beth Conklin in her new book, Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society [University of Texas Press]."

We should realize, a new generation of anthropologists tell us, that historic cannabalism may not always have been as Hollywood portrays it, wild-eyed people with bones in their noses hunting down a tasty trespasser.

In some societies, the dearly departed of a tribe were consumed as a way of showing respect.

And until quite recently, many people in Western Europe, who considered themselves the epitome of civilized, believed in the efficacy of medicines made from their fellow human beings.


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