Cannibalism is a pretty hot topic in three of the sub-disciplines of anthropology. Physical anthropologists and forensic ones love to find evidence of cannibalism in human and hominin remains. Why? Because it rocks our understanding of ‘normal’ human behavior. One example that comes to mind is White’s book about cannibalistic practices 1,000 years ago in Mancos. Another are the remains of Neandertal long bones from Krapina, one of the largest Neandertal sites, which show human bones were broken to eat the bone marrow.
Cultural anthropologists and archaeologists are also way into cannibalism. Cannibalism is often a defining cultural practice. When in 1878, a Fijian minister and three teachers, were killed and eaten by Tolai tribespeople on the Gazelle Peninsula of Papua New Guinea, that area of the world was stamped with the label of being home to blood thirsty human flesh eaters. Once cultural anthropologists flocked over there to study the people, they understood that tribesmen were carrying out longstanding practices with people they saw as enemies. The whole relative aspect of it surfaced later much later.
But now the descendants of Papua New Guinea cannibals, those who killed and ate four Fijian missionaries 130 years ago, have just apologized, as if it means anything.
Fiji’s High Commissioner to PNG, Ratu Isoa Tikoca accepted the apologies at a reconciliation ceremony near Rabaul in PNG’s East New Britain Province yesterday in front of thousands of people.
“We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement,” Ratu Tikoca said.
What are your thoughts on apologizing on matters like this? Does it mean anything to you?