The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Of Cannibals and Kings

Of Cannibals and Kings

Primal Anthropology in the Americas Neil L. Whitehead
  • Copyright: 2011
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
  • Page Count: 152 pages
  • Illustrations: 6 b&w illustrations/
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03799-8
  • Series Name: Latin American Originals
“As the primal text of Europe’s encounter with America, Ramón Pané’s Antiquities of the Indies is of unparalleled importance for understanding both the native culture of the Caribbean at the time of contact and the ways in which Europeans tried to make sense of it. This authoritative edition finally gives us a satisfactory English translation and contextualizes Pané by placing his text alongside other key documents of the time, several of them previously untranslated. Most significantly, the collection is introduced by Neil Whitehead’s magisterial survey of the politics of this founding moment of anthropological discourse. Of Cannibals and Kings is now an essential text for understanding America.”

Of Cannibals and Kings collects the very earliest accounts of the native peoples of the Americas, including selections from the descriptions of Columbus’s first two voyages; documents reflecting the initial colonial occupation in Haiti, Venezuela, and Guyana; and the first ethnographic account of the Taínos by the missionary Ramón Pané. This primal anthropology directly guided a rapacious discovery of the lands of both wild cannibals and golden kings.

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


List of Illustrations



Introduction: Of Cannibals and Kings

Documents 1a and 1b The Letter, and Extracts from the Journal of Columbus’s First Voyage to America (1492)

Document 2 The Report of Diego Chanca on Columbus’s Second Voyage to America (1494)

Document 3 Writings of Friar Roman on the Antiquities of the Indians, Which He Collected on Request of the Admiral with Diligence, as a Man Who Knows Their Language (ca. 1498)

Document 4 The Deposition of Rodrigo Figueroa on the Islands of the Barbarous Caribes (1520)

Document 5 An Account of the Provinces of the Aruacas by Rodrigo de Navarrete (ca. 1550)



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