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Cannibal Writes

Cannibal Writes: Eating Others in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Women's Writing

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Cannibal Writes
    Book Description:

    Postcolonial and diaspora studies scholars and critics have paid increasing attention to the use of metaphors of food, eating, digestion, and various affiliated actions such as loss of appetite, indigestion, and regurgitation. As such stylistic devices proliferated in the works of non-Western women writers, scholars connected metaphors of eating and consumption to colonial and imperial domination. In Cannibal Writes , Njeri Githire concentrates on the gendered and sexualized dimensions of these visceral metaphors of consumption in works by women writers from Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, and elsewhere. Employing theoretical analysis and insightful readings of English- and French-language texts, she explores the prominence of alimentary-related tropes and their relationship to sexual consumption, writing, global geopolitics and economic dynamics, and migration. As she shows, the use of cannibalism in particular as a central motif opens up privileged modes for mediating historical and sociopolitical issues. Ambitiously comparative, Cannibal Writes ranges across the works of well-known and lesser known writers to tie together two geographic and cultural spaces that have much in common but are seldom studied in parallel.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09674-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    Over the last decade critics of postcolonial and diaspora¹ literatures have paid increasing attention to the use of metaphors of food, eating, digestion, and related tropes by women writers across national boundaries to frame and critique continuing relations of domination and control within changing national and international economic, political, and social landscapes. These various affiliated tropes include, but are not limited to, inability, reluctance or refusal to eat; and inappetency, indigestion, and regurgitation (intentional, unintentional, or unknown). The prevailing inquiries, themselves rooted in ideological notions of eating as a framework for assessing power relations, surpass concerns with food and women’s...

    (pp. 31-76)

    This chapter engages with acts of gastronomic consumption and sexual incorporation as two prototypes of the “othering” rhetoric in (neo)colonial discourse that reach their apotheosis in the figure of the cannibal. Specifically, I read Maryse Condé’sThe Story of the Cannibal Woman(orStory) and Andrea Levy’sSmall Islandas a lens through which to assess the constant blurring of sexual and gustatory appetites in dominating acts of (neo)imperial expansion. Further, I consider their crucial role in the formation of Caribbean (diasporic) histories as well as in the articulation of subversive narratives. In the contextual frame where food consumption and...

  6. 2 Immigration, Assimilation, and Conflict: A DIALECTICS OF CANNIBALISM AND ANTHROPEMY
    (pp. 77-120)

    This chapter explores the dialectic of cannibalism and anthropemy (from Greekemein, to vomit) that functions in the larger context of assimilation and social integration in the works of Edwidge Danticat, Andrea Levy, and Gisèle Pineau. That is, I explore the ways in which countries assimilate or cannibalize the other (taking in difference in order to neutralize its threatening potential—as chapter 1 has aimed to show) while at the same time rejecting the “non-assimilable”—the alien, undigestible, and unpalatable in an anthropoemic manner. To reflect the collaborative relationship between these ingestion and expulsion modes of social control and reveal...

    (pp. 121-158)

    This chapter examines the use of the trope of hunger in Lindsey Collen’sThere is a Tide(1990) andMutiny(2001) to dispel the myth of Mauritius as a model of paradise that permeates historical, travel, and literary writing. Best captured by Bernadin de Saint-Pierre in his eighteenth-century pastoralPaul et Virginie, later reinforced by the likes of Charles Darwin and Mark Twain in their travel narratives and further enhanced by Baudelaire in his poetry, the depiction of Mauritius as the site of idyllic nature, harmony, and indeed of unadulterated beauty has been around long enough to seem like a...

    (pp. 159-198)

    In this chapter I link the themes of cannibals, pirates, and colonial conquest of islands to the consumption of literary texts as a commodity embedded within paradigms of domination and control. Undoubtedly, the literary trope of the desert island, with its concomitant themes of shipwreck, mutiny, pirates, and cannibals, has been one of the most dominant plot lines in imperial fiction. Explicitly engaging with the island space as the archetypal site of colonial encounter, I accordingly identify the conqueror and the lone survivor in desert-island fiction as the very villains portrayed as their antithetical adversaries in imperial narratives. That is,...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 199-202)

    InCarnal Appetites: Foodsexidentities, Elspeth Probyn makes the noteworthy assertion that “the figure of the cannibal has returned to haunt Western societies, from which, of course, it originally came” (9). Probyn is referring here to the growing increase in the different scenarios to which the term “cannibalism” can be applied in a literal or symbolic sense. It bears pointing out in passing that cannibalism, as Marshall Sahlins’s now-popular dictum reminds us, “is always ‘symbolic,’ even when it is ‘real’” (88). In any event, the cannibalistic tendencies that have crept back to modern societies and elicit Probyn’s attention include the establishment...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 203-216)
    (pp. 217-232)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 233-242)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-244)