Contents

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p. ix

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xv

In writing this book I often felt cursed like Melville, forever associated with the transgressive, the taboo. I started this book as a graduate student at Jeffrey Dahmer’s alma mater, in the state of his birth; in fact, Dahmer attended Ohio State University only briefly, but it made for interesting gossip in my seminar on the theory...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-25

The word “cannibal” is indelibly linked to notions of Americanness since its entry into the Western lexicon coincides with the founding moment of “the Americas.” The Carib Indians’ name, bastardized to canibale by Columbus, came to signify, in the English and Spanish...

Part I: Colonial Performances

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1. P. T. Barnum’s American Exhibition of Fiji Cannibals (1871–1873)

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pp. 29-76

In one of the many amended chapters to his autobiography, The Struggles and Triumphs of P.T. Barnum, the renowned American showman states that he had recently fulfilled one of his lifelong goals: to procure some real live cannibals: “But perhaps the most rare and curious addition to my great show, and certainly the most difficult...

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2. Literacy, Imperialism, Race, and Cannibalism in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes

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pp. 77-102

The first epigraph, desperately breathless, comes from the seventh chapter of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1914 American classic, Tarzan of the Apes.1 Titled “The Light of Knowledge,” this chapter marks the moment when Tarzan returns to the cabin that, unbeknownst to him, had once belonged to his parents. During an earlier...

Part II: Postcolonial Transformations

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3. The Cannibal at Home: The Secret of Fried Green Tomatoes

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pp. 105-129

In the previous chapters, it was the heroic task of the white man to fend off man-eaters and protect white civilization. But such a narrative was often bifurcated by an appeal to the civilizing mission, the errand of bringing civility to the heathen. Thus emerged a deeply ambivalent discourse, simultaneously estranging and familiarizing...

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4. Turning Back the Cannibal: Indigenous Revisionism in the Late Twentieth Century

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pp. 130-169

Steven Yazzie’s (Navajo/Diné) multiple-panel mural “Fear of a Red Planet” (8 feet by 160 feet), in the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, features in an initial frame a bloody eagle eating its own tail (EastWall).1 This symbol of democracy is eating itself, caught in a perpetual, solipsistic loop of self-destruction. Its eyes are sewn shut, blind to...

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Epilogue: Abortion Politics, Focus on the Family, and U.S. Feminists in Beijing

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pp. 171-185

Before I leave you, like Ishmael floating to safety on the coffin of the dead cannibal Queequeg, I want to consider one further case study that illustrates how the subject of cannibalism or “the cannibalistic” is always materially connected to race and imperialism and thus, by extension, to religion, gender, and the political. As has been...

Notes

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pp. 189-208

Bibliography

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pp. 209-225

Index

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pp. 227-233