Lecture: “Cannibalism, Superstition, and the Slave Trade”

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As part of the cycle of Caribbean Conferences, organized by Manuel Covo, Céline Flory, and Romy Sánchez, Cuban scholar Manuel Barcia (Historian, University of Leeds, UK) will present “Cannibalism, Superstition, and the Slave Trade: The Peculiar Case of the Portuguese Schooner Arrogante in 1837.” The lecture will be held on February 9, 2018, from 3:00 to 6:00pm, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Boulevard Raspail, Paris, France. For more information, see Mondes americains.

Description (by Mondes americains): The Portuguese schooner Arrogante was captured in late November 1837 by the HMS Snake, off the coast of Cuba. At the time, the Arrogante had more than 330 Africans on board, who had been shipped in the Upper Guinea coast. Once the vessel arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the British authorities apprenticed those who survived. Shortly after landing, however, the Arrogante’s sailors were accused of slaughtering an African man, cooking his flesh, and forcing the rest of the slaves on board to eat it. Furthermore, they were also accused of cooking and eating themselves the heart and liver of the same man.

This article focuses not so much on the actual event, as on the follow up transatlantic process where knowledge was produced and contested, and where meanings and predetermined cultural notions related to morality and natural laws were probed and queried. Overall, this sui-generis case offers hard-wearing evidence to suggest that Africans’ beliefs and fears on white cannibalism were not based solely in folklore, as it has been usually assumed, but that they may have been founded on assumptions about real incidents that took place in the Hidden Atlantic, away from ports, authorities and reliable witnesses.

For more information, see http://mondes-americains.ehess.fr/index.php?2087

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

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