Clay-Eating (Geophagy) in the 19th Century

Slaves on the way to the coast . The practice of geophagy was apparently taken to the Southern states in the U.S. by slaves. Source: Livingstone, Last Journals

“Dirt is matter out-of-place.”  This quote, by the anthropologist Mary Douglas, points to the cultural relativity of the term ‘dirt’; of dirt being culturally defined.   It is in reference to diseases that ‘dirt’ takes on a non-culturally and more universally defined aura.  Hence, the eating of dirt – or geophagy – covers a wide range of both culturally and medically defined practices.

I don’t want to get into a discussion on the benefits or negative aspects of geophagy, but to bring to attention several examples that come from 19th Century Africa.  This is in response to a series of hits onto my blog from the Wikipedia entry on ‘Geophagy‘ – an entry that is being contested (geophagy seems to be an emotional topic!).

Continue blog here: Clay-Eating (Geophagy) in the 19th Century [From the Archives].

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-General, Colonialism, Cuisine, Dark Continent, European colonizers, European explorers, Explorers & exploration, Food, Health and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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