On the Cannibals: Wondering about Eurocentrism


Course description

After travellers returned to Europe with tales of Indigenous tribes in the region of what is now called Rio de Janeiro, describing so-called 'savages' who went naked and consumed war captives in ritual meals, Michel de Montaigne responded with his 1580 essay On the Cannibals, a sceptical exploration of the European travellers' presumptions of superiority. The essay was revised and expanded in 1588 and in On Coaches, he offered further reflections inspired and appalled by the Spanish conquests of Cuzco and Mexico. In this discussion seminar we will study Montaigne's developing lines of thought, illustrated by 16th c. images and narratives, and with reference to Montaigne's ancient sources. 

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