Dissertation Chapter: Representations of Cannibalism in the Congo Free State

Module: Dissertation (Level 6)


  • Deanna Walsh


Congo Free State, Cannibalism, Undergraduate dissertation


This chapter examines and analyses literary representations of cannibalism in the Congo Free State. I analyse a variety of texts: Herbert Ward’s travel text, Five Years with the Congo Cannibals (1891), Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Roger Casement’s Correspondence and Report from His Majesty's Consul at Boma respecting the Administration of the Independent State of the Congo (1903), and African testimony from victims of the State. I theorise that European literary representation of the African cannibal relies on malicious, aimless intent in order to be deemed atrocious, in comparison to European cannibalism that is depicted as medicinal and of pure intent. The conclusion discusses how representations of cannibalism in European literature were utilised as a method of control and domination of oppressed peoples.

Author Biography

Deanna Walsh

Deanna Walsh is a third-year undergraduate student of English Literature at Leeds Beckett University. Deanna became interested in nineteenth-century literature and colonialism throughout her studies, leading to her research on the Congo Free State for her dissertation. ‘Representations of Cannibalism in the Congo Free State’ is the third chapter of her dissertation, Civilisation, Bureaucracy, Cannibalism: Representations of the Congo Free State.