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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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Sex, Honor, and Human Consumption

Sex, Honor, and Human Consumption

(p.59) 2 Sex, Honor, and Human Consumption
The Delectable Negro

Vincent Woodard

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes literal and symbolic examples of human consumption in the antebellum United States. It begins with a discussion of the Essex affair, which involved the consumption of four black men in the nineteenth century. Similar cases during the period involving black men continue to evoke strong feelings of shame and dishonor among American whites and Europeans today. These cases also illuminate how “the choice” made by whites to eat black men aboard ships coincided with ideologies of Negro inferiority and with the logic and practice of chattel bondage in the plantation South and other regions of the United States. Isolating issues of male secrecy, shame, and honor inherent in the Essex affair, the chapter explores issues in the slave narratives of black men who documented their social consumption and looks at the widespread nineteenth-century concern over whether the United States was becoming a cannibal nation.

Keywords:   human consumption, antebellum United States, Essex affair, black men, American whites, Europeans, Negro inferiority, plantation, cannibal nation

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