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Cannibalism has recently been both practiced and fiercely condemned in several wars, especially in Liberia [11] and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cannibalism has been said to test the bounds of cultural relativism because it challenges anthropologists "to define what is or is not beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior". Cannibalism has occasionally been practiced as a last resort by people suffering from famine , even in modern times.

Famous examples include the ill-fated Donner Party —47 and, more recently, the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight , after which some survivors ate the bodies of dead passengers. Also, some mentally ill people have done so, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Albert Fish. There is resistance to formally labeling cannibalism a mental disorder. It is also called anthropophagy. In some societies, especially tribal societies, cannibalism is a cultural norm. Consumption of a person from within the same community is called endocannibalism ; ritual cannibalism of the recently deceased can be part of the grieving process [18] or be seen as a way of guiding the souls of the dead into the bodies of living descendants.

In most parts of the world, cannibalism is not a societal norm, but is sometimes resorted to in situations of extreme necessity. Such cases generally involve necro-cannibalism eating the corpse of someone who is already dead as opposed to homicidal cannibalism killing someone for food. In English law, the latter is always considered a crime, even in the most trying circumstances. The case of R v Dudley and Stephens , in which two men were found guilty of murder for killing and eating a cabin boy while adrift at sea in a lifeboat, set the precedent that necessity is no defence to a charge of murder.

In pre-modern medicine, the explanation given by the now-discredited theory of humorism for cannibalism was that it came about within a black acrimonious humor, which, being lodged in the linings of the ventricle , produced the voracity for human flesh. A well-known case of mortuary cannibalism is that of the Fore tribe in New Guinea , which resulted in the spread of the prion disease kuru.

However, some scholars argue that although post-mortem dismemberment was the practice during funeral rites, cannibalism was not. Marvin Harris theorizes that it happened during a famine period coincident with the arrival of Europeans and was rationalized as a religious rite. In , a publication in Science received a large amount of press attention when it suggested that early humans may have practiced extensive cannibalism.

Cannibalism features in the folklore and legends of many cultures and is most often attributed to evil characters or as extreme retribution for some wrongdoing. A number of stories in Greek mythology involve cannibalism, in particular cannibalism of close family members, e.

The story of Tantalus also parallels this. The wendigo is a creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian people. It is thought of variously as a malevolent cannibalistic spirit that could possess humans or a monster that humans could physically transform into. Those who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, [30] and the legend appears to have reinforced this practice as taboo. Anthropology and Anthropophagy , [31] questions the credibility of reports of cannibalism and argues that the description by one group of people of another people as cannibals is a consistent and demonstrable ideological and rhetorical device to establish perceived cultural superiority.

Arens bases his thesis on a detailed analysis of numerous "classic" cases of cultural cannibalism cited by explorers, missionaries, and anthropologists. He asserts that many were steeped in racism, unsubstantiated, or based on second-hand or hearsay evidence. Accusations of cannibalism helped characterize indigenous peoples as "uncivilized", "primitive", or even "inhuman. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and its earlier conquests in the Caribbean where there were widespread reports of cannibalism, justifying the conquest.

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Cannibal, 21, told police ‘I liked the taste of her brain’ after eating lover, 45

Cannibals were exempt from Queen Isabella 's prohibition on enslaving the indigenous. As Eskildsen describes, there was an exaggeration of cannibalism by Taiwanese indigenous peoples in Japan's popular media such as newspapers and illustrations at the time. Among modern humans, cannibalism has been practiced by various groups. There is evidence, both archaeological and genetic, that cannibalism has been practiced for hundreds of thousands of years by early Homo Sapiens and archaic hominins.

The oldest Homo sapiens bones from Ethiopia show signs of this as well. White , suggest that ritual cannibalism was common in human societies prior to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period. In Gough's Cave , England, remains of human bones and skulls, around 14, years old, suggest that cannibalism took place amongst the people living in or visiting the cave, [52] and that they may have used human skulls as drinking vessels.

Researchers have found physical evidence of cannibalism in ancient times. In , archaeologists at the University of Bristol found evidence of Iron Age cannibalism in Gloucestershire. Cannibalism is mentioned many times in early history and literature. Herodotus in " The Histories " s to the s BCE [58] claimed, that after eleven days' voyage up the Borysthenes Dnieper in Europe a desolated land extended for a long way, and later the country of the man-eaters other than Scythians was located, and beyond it again a desolated area extended where no men lived. Jerome , in his letter Against Jovinianus , discusses how people come to their present condition as a result of their heritage, and he then lists several examples of peoples and their customs.

In the list, he mentions that he has heard that Attacotti eat human flesh and that Massagetae and Derbices a people on the borders of India kill and eat old people. Reports of cannibalism were recorded during the First Crusade , as Crusaders were alleged to have fed on the bodies of their dead opponents following the Siege of Ma'arra.

Amin Maalouf also alleges further cannibalism incidents on the march to Jerusalem , and to the efforts made to delete mention of these from Western history. In North Africa, as in Europe, there are references to cannibalism as a last resort in times of famine. The Moroccan Muslim explorer ibn Battuta reported that one African king advised him that nearby people were cannibals although this may have been a prank played on ibn Battuta by the king to fluster his guest.

Ibn Batutta reported that Arabs and Christians were safe, as their flesh was "unripe" and would cause the eater to fall ill. For a brief time in Europe, an unusual form of cannibalism occurred when thousands of Egyptian mummies preserved in bitumen were ground up and sold as medicine.

This "fad" ended because the mummies were revealed actually to be recently killed slaves. Two centuries ago, mummies were still believed to have medicinal properties against bleeding, and were sold as pharmaceuticals in powdered form see human mummy confection and mummia. In China during the Tang dynasty , cannibalism was supposedly resorted to by rebel forces early in the period who were said to raid neighboring areas for victims to eat , as well as both soldiers and civilians besieged during the rebellion of An Lushan.

Eating an enemy's heart and liver was also claimed to be a feature of both official punishments and private vengeance. Charges of cannibalism were levied against the Qizilbash of the Safavid Ismail. There is universal agreement that some Mesoamerican people practiced human sacrifice , but there is a lack of scholarly consensus as to whether cannibalism in pre-Columbian America was widespread.

At one extreme, anthropologist Marvin Harris, author of Cannibals and Kings , has suggested that the flesh of the victims was a part of an aristocratic diet as a reward, since the Aztec diet was lacking in proteins. While most historians of the pre-Columbian era believe that there was ritual cannibalism related to human sacrifices, they do not support Harris's thesis that human flesh was ever a significant portion of the Aztec diet.

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European explorers and colonizers brought home many stories of cannibalism practiced by the native peoples they encountered, but there is now archeological and written evidence for English settlers' cannibalism in in the Jamestown Colony under famine conditions. In Spain's overseas expansion to the New World, the practice of cannibalism was reported by Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean islands, and the Caribs were greatly feared because of their supposed practice of it.

Queen Isabel of Castile had forbade the Spaniards to enslave the indigenous, but if they were "guilty" of cannibalism, they could be enslaved.

In early Brazil, there is reportage of cannibalism among the Tupinamba. If she goes her time out, she herself cuts the navel-string with a shell, which she boils along with the secondine [i. The Handbook of Indians of Canada reprinting material from the Bureau of American Ethnology , claims that North American natives practicing cannibalism included " There is also a tradition of the practice among the Hopi , and mentions of the custom among other tribes of New Mexico and Arizona.

The Mohawk , and the Attacapa , Tonkawa , and other Texas tribes were known to their neighbours as 'man-eaters. From another source, according to Hans Egede , when the Inuit killed a woman accused of witchcraft, they ate a portion of her heart. As with most lurid tales of native cannibalism, these stories are treated with a great deal of scrutiny, as accusations of cannibalism were often used as justifications for the subjugation or destruction of "savages".

Other islands in the Pacific were home to cultures that allowed cannibalism to some degree. In parts of Melanesia , cannibalism was still practiced in the early 20th century, for a variety of reasons—including retaliation, to insult an enemy people, or to absorb the dead person's qualities.

The dense population of Marquesas Islands , Polynesia , was concentrated in the narrow valleys, and consisted of warring tribes, who sometimes practiced cannibalism on their enemies. Human flesh was called "long pig". It was considered a great triumph among the Marquesans to eat the body of a dead man.

They treated their captives with great cruelty. They broke their legs to prevent them from attempting to escape before being eaten, but kept them alive so that they could brood over their impending fate. With this tribe, as with many others, the bodies of women were in great demand.

This period of time was also rife with instances of explorers and seafarers resorting to cannibalism for survival. After the sinking of the Essex of Nantucket by a whale on 20 November an important source event for Herman Melville 's Moby-Dick , the survivors, in three small boats, resorted, by common consent, to cannibalism in order for some to survive. The case of R v.

After several days, one of the crew, a seventeen-year-old cabin boy, fell unconscious due to a combination of the famine and drinking seawater. The others one possibly objecting decided then to kill him and eat him. They were picked up four days later. Two of the three survivors were found guilty of murder.

List of incidents of cannibalism - Wikipedia

A significant outcome of this case was that necessity was determined to be no defence against a charge of murder. The people round here are all cannibals. You never saw such a weird looking lot in your life. There are also dwarfs called Batwas in the forest who are even worse cannibals than the taller human environment. They eat man flesh raw! The Dwarfs, as I say, dispense with cooking pots and eat and drink their human prey fresh cut on the battlefield while the blood is still warm and running. These are not fairy tales my dear Cowper but actual gruesome reality in the heart of this poor, benighted savage land.

During the — war between the Congo Free State and the Swahili — Arab city-states of Nyangwe and Kasongo in Eastern Congo, there were reports of widespread cannibalization of the bodies of defeated Arab combatants by the Batetela allies of Belgian commander Francis Dhanis. It's horrible but exceedingly useful and hygienic I should have been horrified at the idea in Europe!

But it seems quite natural to me here. Don't show this letter to anyone indiscreet. In West Africa, the Leopard Society was a cannibalistic secret society that existed until the mids. Centered in Sierra Leone , Liberia and Ivory Coast , the Leopard men would dress in leopard skins, and waylay travelers with sharp claw-like weapons in the form of leopards' claws and teeth. Further instances include cannibalism as ritual practice, in times of drought, famine and other destitution, as well as those being criminal acts and war crimes throughout the 20th century, and also 21st century.

Many instances of cannibalism by necessity were recorded during World War II. For example, during the day Siege of Leningrad , reports of cannibalism began to appear in the winter of —, after all birds, rats and pets were eaten by survivors. Leningrad police even formed a special division to combat cannibalism. Following the Soviet victory at Stalingrad it was found that some German soldiers in the besieged city, cut off from supplies, resorted to cannibalism.

Almost all of them were sent to POW camps in Siberia or Central Asia where, due to being chronically underfed by their Soviet captors, many resorted to cannibalism. Fewer than 5, of the prisoners taken at Stalingrad survived captivity. The Australian War Crimes Section of the Tokyo tribunal , led by prosecutor William Webb the future Judge-in-Chief , collected numerous written reports and testimonies that documented Japanese soldiers' acts of cannibalism among their own troops, on enemy dead, as well as on Allied prisoners of war in many parts of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

In some cases, flesh was cut from living people. I personally saw this happen and about prisoners were eaten at this place by the Japanese. The remainder of us were taken to another spot 50 miles 80 kilometres away where 10 prisoners died of sickness. At this place, the Japanese again started selecting prisoners to eat. Those selected were taken to a hut where their flesh was cut from their bodies while they were alive and they were thrown into a ditch where they later died. Another well-documented case occurred in Chichi-jima in February , when Japanese soldiers killed and consumed five American airmen.

This case was investigated in in a war crimes trial, and of 30 Japanese soldiers prosecuted, five Maj. Teraki were found guilty and hanged. Of the famine in Povolzhie — he wrote: During the dekulakization process in the USSR in the s and s, many deportees were forced to eat one another by genocidal Soviet authorities, e. During the s, multiple acts of cannibalism were reported from Ukraine and Russia's Volga, South Siberian and Kuban regions during the Soviet famine of — Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle.

A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was "not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died.

Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. At least 2, people were sentenced for cannibalism in the years and in Ukraine, though the actual number of cases was certainly much higher. Solzhenitsyn said of the Siege of Leningrad — In the camp Sevzheldorlag chief: The Soviet journalist Yevgenia Ginzburg was a long-term political prisoner who spent time in the Soviet prisons, Gulag camps and settlements from to She described in her memoir, Harsh Route or Steep Route , of a case which she was directly involved in during the late s, after she had been moved to the prisoners' hospital.

The chief warder shows me the black smoked pot, filled with some food: The fibres of that meat are very small, and don't resemble me anything I have seen before. The skin on some pieces bristles with black hair A former smith from Poltava, Kulesh worked together with Centurashvili. At this time, Centurashvili was only one month away from being discharged from the camp And suddenly he surprisingly disappeared.

The wardens looked around the hills, stated Kulesh's evidence, that last time Kulesh had seen his workmate near the fireplace, Kulesh went out to work and Centurashvili left to warm himself more; but when Kulesh returned to the fireplace, Centurashvili had vanished; who knows, maybe he got frozen somewhere in snow, he was a weak guy The wardens searched for two more days, and then assumed that it was an escape case, though they wondered why, since his imprisonment period was almost over The crime was there. Approaching the fireplace, Kulesh killed Centurashvili with an axe, burned his clothes, then dismembered him and hid the pieces in snow, in different places, putting specific marks on each burial place.

Just yesterday, one body part was found under two crossed logs. Cannibalism has also been reported in several recent African conflicts, including the Second Congo War , [] and the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, Amnesty International declined to publicize this material; the Secretary-General of the organization, Pierre Sane , said at the time in an internal communication that "what they do with the bodies after human rights violations are committed is not part of our mandate or concern".

The existence of cannibalism on a wide scale in Liberia was subsequently verified. A UN human rights expert reported in July that sexual atrocities against Congolese women go "far beyond rape" and include sexual slavery , forced incest , fistula mutilation of genitals with sharp objects, and cannibalism. Around were killed. Further reports of cannibalism were reported against the Seleka Muslim minority during the ongoing Central African Republic conflict.

During South Sudanese Civil War cannibalism and forced cannibalism has been reported. In the s the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was reputed to practice cannibalism. Cannibalism was reported by the journalist Neil Davis during the South East Asian wars of the s and s. Davis reported that Cambodian troops ritually ate portions of the slain enemy, typically the liver. However he, and many refugees, also report that cannibalism was practiced non-ritually when there was no food to be found.

This usually occurred when towns and villages were under Khmer Rouge control, and food was strictly rationed, leading to widespread starvation. Any civilian caught participating in cannibalism would have been immediately executed. Reports of widespread cannibalism began to emerge from North Korea during the famine of the s [] [] and subsequent ongoing starvation.

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