Cannibalism

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Cannibalism (from Caníbalis, the Spanish name for the Carib people,[1] a West Indies tribe formerly well known for their practice of cannibalism),[2] is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy. A person who practices cannibalism is called a cannibal.

While the expression "cannibalism" has origins in the act of humans eating other humans, it has extended into zoology to mean the act of any animal consuming members of its own type or kind, including the consumption of mates.

A related word, "cannibalize" (from which is derived "cannibalization"), has several meanings which are metaphorically derived from cannibalism and originally referred to the reuse of military parts.[3] In manufacturing, it can refer to reuse of salvageable parts. In marketing, it may refer to the loss of a product's market share to another product from the same company. In publishing, it can mean drawing on material from another source.[4]

Cannibalism has recently been both practiced and fiercely condemned in several wars, especially in Liberia[5] and Congo.[6] Today, the Korowai are one of very few tribes still believed to eat human flesh as a cultural practice.[7][8] It is also still known to be practiced as a ritual and in war in various Melanesian tribes.[9] Historically, allegations of cannibalism were used by the colonial powers to justify the enslavement of what were seen as primitive peoples; cannibalism has been said to test the bounds of cultural relativism as it challenges anthropologists "to define what is or is not beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior".[10]

Cannibalism was widespread in the past among humans throughout the world, continuing into the 19th century in some isolated South Pacific cultures; and, in a few cases in insular Melanesia, indigenous flesh-markets existed.[11] Fiji was once known as the 'Cannibal Isles'.[12] Cannibalism has been well-documented around the world, from Fiji to the Amazon Basin to the Congo to Māori New Zealand.[13] Neanderthals are believed to have practiced cannibalism,[14][15] and they may have been eaten by modern humans.[16]

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