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Feasting With Cannibals

Feasting With Cannibals: An Essay on Kwakiutl Cosmology

Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Feasting With Cannibals
    Book Description:

    Professor Walens shows that the Kwakiutl visualize the world as a place of mouths and stomachs, of eaters and eaten. His analyses of the social rituals of meals, native ideas of the ethology of predation, a key Kwakiutl myth, and the Hamatsa dance, the most dramatic of their ceremonials, demonstrate the ways in which oral, assimilative metaphors encapsulate Kwakiutl ideas of man's role in the cosmos.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5732-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    (pp. 3-20)

    Anthropologists have long realized that a people’s worldview is composed of two interrelated parts: first, a notion of how the world is structured, of how its parts have been fashioned into a cohesive whole; and second, a set of rules by which that structure is set into motion, and of how that motion can be controlled or directed. We may make a distinction between worldview and ethos, between ontology and morality, between a description of the world in which people act and the set of rules delineating how they ought to act (see Geertz, 1973:126–41 for a discussion of...

  6. ONE Metaphors of Structure, Process, and Identity
    (pp. 21-66)

    It is impossible to understand Kwakiutl culture, and the structure and meaning of Kwakiutl behavior, without first understanding their basic ontological system and the principles of causality on which it is based. These causal principles delineate the organization and operation of the physical world and man’s role in affecting events and their outcome.

    Western ideas of causality are fundamentally different from those of the Kwakiutl. Indeed, the two ideas of causality are so different that scholars who have failed to see in their correct context Kwakiutl behaviors that do not fit into our scheme of cosmic structure have been forced...

  7. TWO Meals and the Moral Basis of Social Action
    (pp. 67-96)

    In Kwakiutl culture, the process of analogizing, of symbolically assimilating one entity within the boundaries of another, comprises the basic metaphor of process. It is not surprising, then, that the procedures by which food is created from living matter and assimilated into both the individual and the society as a whole should be a critical facet of Kwakiutl life. Food collection, preparation, distribution, and destruction—the ways in which the body politic prepares and digests substance—are the visible manifestations of the nature of all process in the universe. The attention the Kwakiutl pay to every detail of the food-getting...

    (pp. None)
  9. THREE Animals as Metaphors of Morality
    (pp. 97-123)

    Animals play a critical metaphorical role for the Kwakiutl. Their bodily forms are seen as symbols of their characters, their postures as representations of their actions, their behavior simultaneously as models for human behavior and as reinforcing repetitive images of human behavior. Animals act as nexi for constellations of symbols and metaphors. They are living examples of the active manifestation of the forces and characteristics that constitute the cosmos.

    Animal characteristics play a direct role in the structuring of myths in both our own and Indian cultures. For example, the famous tale of the race between the tortoise and the...

  10. FOUR Myth, Metaphor, and the Ritual Process
    (pp. 124-164)

    In the past three chapters we have seen how the Kwakiutl use oral/assimilative metaphors to envision themselves and their identities, how these same metaphors provide the primary mode of sociality in Kwakiutl life, and how humans and animals are related in the natural world through their sharing of these metaphorical qualities. In this chapter I shall show that these metaphors also constitute the fundamental basis for Kwakiutl philosophy, religion, morality, and ceremonialism and that when the Kwakiutl envision the structure, nature, and operation of their world, they metaphorize it in oral terms. For the Kwakiutl the universe is founded on...

  11. APPENDIX ONE The First Salmon Rites
    (pp. 165-169)
  12. APPENDIX TWO Index to Boas’s Kwakiutl Texts
    (pp. 170-172)
    (pp. 173-188)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 189-191)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 192-192)