Of Cannibals and Kings

Primal Anthropology in the Americas

By (author) Neil L. Whitehead

Paperback - £23.95

Publication date:

15 November 2011

Length of book:

152 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271037998

Of Cannibals and Kings collects the very earliest accounts of the native peoples of the Americas, including selections from the descriptions of Columbus’s first two voyages; documents reflecting the initial colonial occupation in Haiti, Venezuela, and Guyana; and the first ethnographic account of the Taínos by the missionary Ramón Pané. This primal anthropology directly guided a rapacious discovery of the lands of both wild cannibals and golden kings.

“As the primal text of Europe’s encounter with America, Ramón Pané’s Antiquities of the Indies is of unparalleled importance for understanding both the native culture of the Caribbean at the time of contact and the ways in which Europeans tried to make sense of it. This authoritative edition finally gives us a satisfactory English translation and contextualizes Pané by placing his text alongside other key documents of the time, several of them previously untranslated. Most significantly, the collection is introduced by Neil Whitehead’s magisterial survey of the politics of this founding moment of anthropological discourse. Of Cannibals and Kings is now an essential text for understanding America.”

—Peter Hulme, University of Essex