In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

215 Conclusion Beyond Jamestown RACHEL B. HERRMANN After reading these chapters as a whole,it is worth thinking about how they build upon and echo each other. Several themes run throughout the essays in this volume, including contemporaries’ questions about whether cannibalism took place; theorizing about eating, hunger, and savagery; thinking about epistemology; and the Atlantic world paradigm. If, as I suggested in this book’s introduction, cannibalism must be studied in close connection with something else, then it is necessary to ask how those other subjects alter what we know about cannibalism and the early modern Atlantic and about the Atlantic world as a whole. To an extent,works about cannibalism do still have to wrangle with William Arens—­ to decide whether cannibalism occurred—­ and thus with Jamestown,too.But the writers in this volume are more interested in how people in the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries debated this question rather than going back in time to definitively authenticate specific instances. Contributors have homed in on historical representations of and denials about cannibalism: Gregory Smithers on Europeans’ accusations that Native Americans ate each other or ate Europeans (and by contrast, Native Americans’ uses of cannibalism stories to delimit social behavior); Elena Daniele in urging caution when generalizing about cannibal tropes in early Italian mercantile reports of the New World; Julie Gammon, Jessica Hower, and Matt Williamson on assessing how representations of English cannibals reflected imperial projects; Rebecca Earle on how attitudes toward wheat bread and alcohol consumption related to attitudes toward cannibals ; Jared Staller on Europeans’beliefs thatAfricans consumed each other; and my chapter on Africans’ counterarguments—­ articulated by white slave traders—­ that black people were bad to eat. As Kelly 216 Conclusion Watson and Gregory Smithers remind us,accusations of cannibalism bolstered settler colonialism and imperial expansion,although as Julie Gammon and Matt Williamson observe, cannibal tropes sometimes encouraged deeper introspection about emerging colonial capitalism. Debates about cannibalism changed throughout the early modern period. Kelly Watson finds that Spanish colonizers in the Caribbean and Latin America mostly stopped deploying cannibal accusations to justify imperial expansion after the seventeenth century. Gregory Smithers and I suggest that,in contrast,Anglo-­American invaders continued to levy charges of cannibalism against NorthAmerican Indians and Africans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Denials of man-­ eating during these periods sometimes helped foster reform efforts, as when Olaudah Equiano reminded his readers that Africans were not cannibals so he could garner support for the abolitionist cause. In other instances,cannibalism returned to haunt the English at home. Julie Gammon argues that the familiarity of the Sawney Bean story and authors’ tendencies to rewrite the tale about a Scottish can­ nibal to include English cannibals forced people to reckon with the incivility of English crime in certain regions of the country, such as Devon. These stories could then be circulated in myriad coastal regions in and outside of Great Britain. By the late eighteenth century, discussions of cannibalism could be used both to push back against imperialism and to ask questions about domestic lawlessness. In analyzing how early modern people used accusations of can­ nibalism, some of the scholars in this volume have provided helpful background on early modern writers that help us place can­ nibalism stories into fuller context. Elena Daniele’s chapter provides details about the literary education of Italians, such as Peter Martyr D’Anghiera and Nicolò Scillacio, helping us to think more precisely about how humanists altered New World reports. Europeans learned about a New World inhabited by cannibals through Columbus’s letter (which was written in the classical and medieval travel traditions); but the inner circle of the court and the Italian merchants (who were direct observers of the Columbian enterprise) were at first skeptical about stories of cannibalism in their communication via circular newsletters.Kelly Watson’s chapter does similar work by making such writers more palpably, violently human—­ such as when she wonders Conclusion 217 whether Michele da Cuneo described an indigenous woman as a cannibal to explain why he raped her.Even if there is no straight connection between this assumption and his actions, it is clear that Spanish conquerors assumed that peoples in the NewWorld wanted to be subjugated . In doing this contextual work, this book’s contributors offer new ways of thinking about cannibalism, including theories about honor eating (as in the case of RobertAppelbaum’s chapter) and proxy cannibalism (as in my essay). By trying to pin down the specifics of reports of cannibalism...

pdf

Additional Information

ISBN
9781610756563
Related ISBN
9781682260814
MARC Record
OCLC
1043151613
Pages
250
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-05
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.