Chapter 2: Applying Cultural Relativism to Cannibalism

An image of a skull, shown in black and white, with a black background.
Photo by Ahmed Adly on Unsplash.

2.1 What is kuru?

2.2 How do we mourn?

2.3 Death Rituals

  • Christianity is a diverse religion (like all others) and there is not one universal belief about burial in that community. But, burial commonly considered to be the best way to dispose of a dead body because, in many Christian communities, the body needs to remain intact in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Burying preserves the body and allows the body to be resurrected upon Jesus’ return.
  • In Hinduism and Buddhism, it’s preferred to cremate a body because it’s believed that cremation allows the soul to be freed from the body. In this case, the soul may be reincarnated in a new life or it may achieve the higher existence of “samsara” where it is freed from all suffering.

2.4–2.6 Research on Death Rituals

2.7 Cultural Relativism and Cannibalism

  • not interested in making moral judgments
  • not interested in creating a cultural hierarchy

2.8 Researching Kuru

2.9 Cultural Requirements for Cannibalism

  • A belief in a supernatural human spirit
  • A belief that the spirit can live on after death
  • A cultural acceptance of the cyclical nature of life

2.10 Cannibalism in Catholicism/Christianity

  1. First, the firm belief in the practice of cannibalism.
  2. Second, a person who sacrifices themselves to be consumed as the ultimate sacrifice.
  3. Third, a belief that the consumption of the sacrificed person unifies them spiritually with the sacrificed person, so that the sacrificed person’s spirit lives on.

2.11 Revenge Cannibalism

Additional Material

Bibliography

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Cultural Anthropologist in Los Angeles

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Amanda Zunner-Keating

Amanda Zunner-Keating

Cultural Anthropologist in Los Angeles

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