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Cannibal TalkThe Man-Eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas$
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Gananath Obeyesekere

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520243071

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520243071.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Savage Indignation: Cannibalism and the Parodic

Savage Indignation: Cannibalism and the Parodic

(p.88) Four Savage Indignation: Cannibalism and the Parodic
Cannibal Talk

Gananath Obeyesekere

University of California Press

Parody for the Maori is also deadly serious for his Other, the European. Sometimes the parody of the European curiosities as faeces would be shared by those on both sides of the cultural divide, temporarily blurring the divide. In most of these situations, parody also becomes a way of dealing with a troubling or incomprehensible situation, for Maori in their dealings with powerful Europeans and for Europeans in their attempts to understand the savage. This chapter discusses parody and satire in the narratives of Maori cannibalism and European curiosity. The narratives of the Maori cannibalism are often satiric inventions that have some basis in Maori cultural reality but are widely exaggerated in highly improbable ways. However, some narratives not only parody the European discourse on cannibalism, but also the indigenous informant's narrative rendering of “Maori history.” These forms of satire are defensive reactions in the early context of European domination and power. The chapter also discusses the banality of cannibalism in the narratives of Europeans. Narratives and popular culture reinforce the banality of cannibalism as well as the truth of it, even when there is no reliable evidence for it. In addition to discussing the parody and banality of cannibalism, the chapter also discusses the role of eyewitnesses in the creation of narratives of savageness. While eyewitnesses are significant in the affirmation of truth, they have the tendency to misperceive and distort an event.

Keywords:   Maori, parody, satire, Maori cannibalism, European curiosity, discourse on cannibalism, banality of cannibalism, eyewitnesses, savageness

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