2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Environmental Factors as Distinguishing Ritual and Nutritional Cannibalism
Kevin P. Sack
Dr. Amber Johnson, Faculty Mentor

Much of the literature regarding ritual cannibalism focuses on the practice itself and mentions little about its origins. Functionalist theory suggests that rituals develop to serve basic evolutionary needs; it is then postulated that ritual cannibalism developed as a way to perpetuate the practice of cannibalism as a source of dietary nutrition. Past research has examined the importance of population and environment on nutritional cannibalism, so demographic and environmental variables were considered in this study. These variables were applied to 11 cases of ritual and 7 cases of nutritional cannibalism to determine the importance of the conditions surrounding them. No strong evidence was produced to directly link nutritional cannibalism as a precursor to ritualized cannibalism. However, effective temperature was discovered to be a powerful predictive tool in differentiating these two types of cannibalism.

Keywords: cannibalism, ritual, environment, anthropology, effective temperature


Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 2-2
Location: Georgian Room - SUB
Time: 4:30

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