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Views And Reviews

Is cannibalism a myth?

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 02 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:923
  1. T Smith

    The idea of cannibalism is familiar to all of us brought up on cartoons of missionaries in pith helmets standing in large cooking pots surrounded by dancing savages waiting for the water to boil.

    We are now being told this was all racially prejudiced fantasy invented by early European explorers on their return home who were determined to impress their listeners with the primitive state of the peoples they had encountered. The latest debunker of the alleged myth of cannibalism is the Reith lecturer Marina Warner, who asserts that “Cannibalism has taken place and has been - and is - very widely and deeply experienced. In the imagination. It has been …

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