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Consuming Grief : Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society,9780292712362

Consuming Grief : Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society

by
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 7/1/2001
Publisher(s): Univ of Texas Pr

Summary

"This is probably the most significant ethnography of cannibalism. Period. . . . I expect this book to become a classic, an ethnography of exceptional depth and clarity by an anthropologist whose sensitivity and insight are apparent on every page." --Donald Pollock, Associate Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Buffalo Mourning the death of loved ones and recovering from their loss are universal human experiences, yet the grieving process is as different between cultures as it is among individuals. As late as the 1960s, the Wari' Indians of the western Amazonian rainforest ate the roasted flesh of their dead as an expression of compassion for the deceased and for his or her close relatives. By removing and transforming the corpse, which embodied ties between the living and the dead and was a focus of grief for the family of the deceased, Wari' death rites helped the bereaved kin accept their loss and go on with their lives. Drawing on the recollections of Wari' elders who participated in consuming the dead, this book presents one of the richest, most authoritative ethnographic accounts of funerary cannibalism ever recorded. Beth Conklin explores Wari' conceptions of person, body, and spirit, as well as indigenous understandings of memory and emotion, to explain why the Wari' felt that corpses must be destroyed and why they preferred cannibalism over cremation. Her findings challenge many commonly held beliefs about cannibalism and show why, in Wari' terms, it was considered the most honorable and compassionate way of treating the dead.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
About the Artist and Illustrations xiii
A Note on Orthography xiv
Introduction xv
PART I: CONTEXTS
1(62)
Cannibal Epistemologies
3(21)
Wari' Worlds
24(23)
Cultural Collisions
47(16)
PART II: MOTIFS AND MOTIVES
63(46)
Funerals
65(22)
Explanations of Eating
87(22)
PART III: BODILY CONNECTIONS
109(70)
Social Anatomy
111(21)
Embodied Identities
132(25)
Burning Sorrow
157(22)
PART IV: EAT AND BE EATEN
179(62)
Predator and Prey
181(24)
Hunting the Ancestors
205(19)
Transforming Grief
224(17)
Afterword 241(1)
Appendix A: The Story of Mortuary Cannibalism's Origin 242(5)
Appendix B: The Story of Hujin and Orotapan 247(5)
Notes 252(11)
References 263(14)
Index 277

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