To Feast on Us as Their Prey: Cannibalism and the Early Modern Atlantic (Food and Foodways) (Hardcover)
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Winner, 2020 Association for the Study of Food and Society Book Award, Edited Volume
Long before the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia, colony and its Starving Time of 1609–1610—one of the most famous cannibalism narratives in North American colonial history—cannibalism played an important role in shaping the human relationship to food, hunger, and moral outrage. Why did colonial invaders go out of their way to accuse women of cannibalism? What challenges did Spaniards face in trying to explain Eucharist rites to Native peoples? What roles did preconceived notions about non-Europeans play in inflating accounts of cannibalism in Christopher Columbus’s reports as they moved through Italian merchant circles?
Asking questions such as these and exploring what it meant to accuse someone of eating people as well as how cannibalism rumors facilitated slavery and the rise of empires, To Feast on Us as Their Prey posits that it is impossible to separate histories of cannibalism from the role food and hunger have played in the colonization efforts that shaped our modern world.
About the Author
Rachel B. Herrmann is a lecturer in modern American history at Cardiff University.
“To Feast on Us as Their Prey raises the academic-historical study of cannibalism to a new level. ‘Cannibal’ is a loaded word; in the past, New World colonists, who feature prominently in these pages, denounced Native populations as ‘kennyballes’ and ‘canibales’ as a rationale for conquering them. Yet there is ample evidence that ‘civilized’ people too, including some colonists, resorted to cannibalism as a coping strategy in famine conditions in the past—and that they were forgiven for doing so. The topic is an inherently complex and disturbing one, which the ten essays in this collection handle with sensitivity, learning, and originality.”
—Cormac Ó Gráda, author of Eating People is Wrong and Other Essays on Famine and coeditor of Famine in European History