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The Delectable NegroHuman Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture$
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Vincent Woodard, Justin A. Joyce, and Dwight McBride

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794616

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794616.001.0001

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Cannibalism in Transatlantic Context

Cannibalism in Transatlantic Context

(p.29) 1 Cannibalism in Transatlantic Context
The Delectable Negro

Vincent Woodard

NYU Press

This chapter examines Olaudah Equiano's well-known slave narrative, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789). The text brings together the themes of homoeroticism and cannibalism, providing examples of Europeans' and West Africans' beliefs about cannibalism in the context of a young Equiano's romantic, chivalric relationship with a young white American lad from the slave-owning South. Scholars dismissed the depictions of cannibalism in the narrative, situating African beliefs that Europeans were cannibals in a historical context which reinforces Western conceptions of reality and overlooks the social logic and human science behind African cannibal beliefs. The chapter treats these seriously and uses them to establish a link between cannibalism and chattel homoeroticism, and to establish a transatlantic context for incidents of cannibalism and homoerotic interactions in U.S. plantation culture.

Keywords:   Olaudah Equiano, homoeroticism, cannibalism, European, West African, South, African cannibal beliefs, transatlantic, U.S. plantation culture

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