Human nature, human sacrifice

Laura Rival on human sacrifice in the Mesoamerican cultures:

What is interesting there is the word human. For us obviously there is no doubt that those are human sacrifices. But can we say that ontologically for these very different people that’s what they understood they were doing. We know from the Amazonian research we’ve been doing that there is no human nature. Humanity is a position. It’s a perspective on the world and therefore animals can be humans. They can adopt the point of view of a human. Therefore there is no clear difference between what we call war and what we call a hunt. And I think that bringing this kind of epistemological issue as to what kind of categories we are dealing with sheds maybe a new light on sacrifice.

Oxford University podcast 27 January 2014