On one Dominican estate, nearly half the slaves were "carried off in a few years" from earth-eating, while more than one Louisiana plantation was purportedly abandoned altogether due to the "extensive mortality, resulting .
Yet surely earth-eating stands out distinctly among other such techniques for more intimately entwining survival with self-destruction: one nourishes oneself, over time, with the very thing that may well also bring about one's demise.
Nostalgia, like the slaves' earth-eating (which, as we will see, was at times ascribed to a condition of nostalgia among them) has most often been seen simply as a form of unreflective self-indulgence.
21) What I want to argue here, then, is that a closer attention to the specific meanings of Ben's earth-eating in itself might enable a more multilayered approach to the individual's encounter with historical time.
27) We see here, as in the earth-eating articles, the familiar explanatory poles of biology vs.
In other instances, the nostalgic deliberately sought to end his own life--and, similarly, some argued that earth-eating was consciously practiced by slaves as a means of suicide (Starobinski 90).
In this account, earth-eating might be conceived as an actual cure for nostalgia--at least by those engaging in it.
Clearly, then, Chesnutt draws on many of the actual meanings attributed to African-American earth-eating in his tale of Lonesome Ben.
Earth-eating, or geophagy, became categorized as one of the many forms of pica, or "the eating of nutritional, nonfood items in a compulsive way"--hence, an "eating disorder" meriting nutritional or psychiatric counseling.
As the editors note, 'the various chapters on geophagia, despite their individual insights, highlight the fact that specific instances of earth-eating
have yet to be investigated in a sustained, integrated and interdisciplinary manner' (p.