The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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(836 words)


1. After landing in the isles of the West Indies in 1492, Columbus reported ‘man-eating’ inhabitants of the islands, the ‘Caribs’ (caribes, caniba, ‘strong,’ ‘shrewd’). The word ‘cannibalism’ was derived from their name. With the discovery of the New World, it replaced the concept of ‘anthropophagy’ (Gk., ánthropos, ‘human being’; phageín, ‘to eat’), the term that had been used since antiquity and the Middle Ages. Anthropophagy in the strict sense is the actual consumptio…

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Hensel, Sabine, “Cannibalism”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 28 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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