Analysis Of The Book ' Of Cannibals '

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History: Whose Story Is It?
Interactions between people are often evaluated in terms of lands gained, lives lost, and valor earned, but there is an arguably more powerful spoil of war that is rarely discussed: the right to write the story. The victorious party gets to tell the tale, and indubitably the defeated are portrayed extremely negatively if at all. Consider the many extant ancient Spanish texts compared to the lack of decipherable Mayan texts: as part of their victory over the Mayans, the Spanish burned the Yucatan almanacs. Cultural genocide of this sort is not rare by any means; imperialism leaves a trail of extinct and dying cultures in its wake. The cannibalistic metaphor in Montaigne’s “Of Cannibals” as well as the essay itself illustrate how history is shaped by dominant narratives, made even more evident in King’s discussion of attitudes towards Native Americans in The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.
Montaigne’s description of natives consuming the defeated is analogous to European culture displacing native culture. Just as the prisoner-of-war sang that part of him is his captor’s ‘own fathers and grandfathers’ that he has previously consumed, the European domination of native culture became another chapter in European history. The flesh the prisoner consumed, however, did not retain its original shape. Instead, it was broken down and absorbed into his being. Similarly, the European subsummation of Native American
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