Von Junzt (vonjunzt) wrote in williamseabrook,
Von Junzt

Your Weekly Seabrook: "Cannibals are the Nicest People"

This installment of "Your Weekly Seabrook" is oddly appropriate for Fourth of July weekend, though it originally dates from 9 April 1944:

Cannibals are the Nicest People

If You're That Way With Them,
Says Author-Explorer William
Seabrook; And So, On The South
Sea Islands, Our Troops Make
Friends--The Japs Make Dinners

One of the themes that runs through The American Weekly is readers' fascination with U.S. soldiers' exposure to foreign cultures. The World War was exactly that, a war involving the entire face of the earth. It caused irrevocable changes to virtually all the earth's societies, and among other things involved American G.I.'s coming into contact with remote South Sea islanders. William Seabrook compared his own experiences two decades before in Africa to those of the troops, and came away with sage advice: If you're nice to them, they'll be nice to you.

This article of course deals with the experiences Seabrook described in Jungle Ways among allegedly cannibalistic tribes in Africa. Seabrook's moral relativism in this article and in his book have always reminded me of that foundational work of anthropological thought, Montaigne's "On the Cannibals," which I'm sure many of you would find interesting reading.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic