The Snake Warriors Summary

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“The Snake Warriors – Sons of the Tiger Teeth: a descriptive analysis of Carib warfare, ca. 1500-1820” by Neil Lancelot Whitehead Neil Whitehead, in his article The Snake Warriors analysed Carib warfare, uses historical texts’ to interpret Carib war culture and society anthropologically. He does this by first, describing Carib military tactics prior to European contact, discussing social and ideological context they were deployed, and also to analyze the effect European contact had on the military aspects of Carib society.
Whitehead placed great emphasis on discussing the ritualistic and spiritual nature of Carib cannibalism. Particularly when discussing the Tiger dance which was said to awaken the Tiger spirit of the warrior, and who upon taking possession of the warrior’s spirit, enabled him to kill and a tiger killed. The only way to relinquish this spirit was to was to allow this Tiger spirit to again, taste the blood of a dead enemy through the warrior. Whitehead argued that the role of cannibalism in Carib warrior society was not too stimulate aggression or to satisfy a desire for revenge, but was actually a means in which the Carib warrior could “distance himself from the trauma of killing” (153). This was the
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He does this by first describing Carib war culture before contact with Europeans, emphasizing that the He wrote that “[it should not] be forgotten that it was the usual fate of any female and child captives to be fully integrated into Carib society. Only under European influence which encouraged the sale of such captives” (160). Carib warfare was inherently limited in nature, there being a definite separation between the civilians and the warrior, however when intercourse with Europeans began, these lines blurred; Whitehead states “The Tiger spirit has been released from his magic constraints to become a constant force in the consciousness of the Carib warrior”

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