Consuming Grief Ch5

Consuming Grief Ch5 - Jessica Lomonaco October 14, 2010...

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Jessica Lomonaco October 14, 2010 Conklin, Beth A. Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society . Austin, TX: University of Texas, 2001. Print. Chapter: 5 Pages: 87-108 Summary This chapter attempts to further explain the causes of Wari’ cannibalism. It discusses a variety of alternative explanations for Wari’ endocannibalism and attempts to discredit these explanations. Some of these explanations include physical forms, such as satisfying hunger or fulfilling nutritional deficiencies in the Wari’ diet. Hunger cannibalism is the term that Beth Conklin uses to describe the practice of eating human flesh in order to survive starvation. Unlike mortuary cannibalism, hunger cannibalism violates social and moral norms of those who are participating. In mortuary cannibalism, eating human flesh is acceptable and even institutionalized. Conklin also discredits nutritional deficiencies as being the major cause of cannibalism in the Wari’ community. Human flesh/bone does provide a bit of protein, iron, and calcium, but it is not efficiently absorbed due to vomiting and diarrhea when consuming the rotten flesh. Furthermore, only adults would be benefiting from the nutritional value since they are typically the ones to consume the flesh. In addition, only some of the human flesh is consumed while the rest is burned. Conklin points out that if the true motive of mortuary cannibalism was nutritional intake, they would (1) cook the flesh while fairly fresh in order to avoid vomiting and sickness (2) allow everyone to participate in the consumption of flesh with the intent of providing nutrition to all members of the community and (3) consume the whole body (as is done with animals) to maximize nutritional intake. There is also no real evidence that Wari’ needed to find nutrition in human flesh that they were lacking in their overall diet; instead, Wari’ elders explain that starvation has always been a rare occasion in their community. Therefore, the nutrition
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found in human flesh has always been found elsewhere, so Conklin discredits both hunger and nutritional cannibalism as reasons for Wari’ mortuary cannibalism. Other alternative explanations include psychoanalytic theories such as the belief that (1) cannibalism is a means of self gratification for the eater (2) emotions that revolve around cannibalism are anger or aggression and (3) cannibalism is used as a way to incorporate the deceased into one’s own body. Conklin explains how these major theories about cannibalism are completely biased, judgmental, and inaccurate; they are based upon
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Consuming Grief Ch5 - Jessica Lomonaco October 14, 2010...

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