Understanding European Colonization in Michel de Montaigne’s “Of Cannibals” and Francis Bacon’s “Of Plantations”


  • Saloni Sharma Sharma




The European colonization of the Americas has been an important conversation in academic discourse for some time now; it is evident that it has come to shape many societies in both ongoing and long-lasting ways.  By turning to the literature that was produced during this colonization period, contemporary readers gain a deeper understanding of the ideas and thoughts that contribute to notions of race and otherness today. This paper focuses on Michel de Montaigne’s essay “Of Cannibals” (1580) and Francis Bacon’s essay “Of Plantations” (1625). The essayists take up discussions of colonization through a similar yet conflicting lens. They both discuss purity and Edenic landscapes in the new world and also recognize the potential for it to be tainted by Europeans. However, they come to different conclusions when justifying colonization due to their positions in European society. However, they simultaneously come together and open up a larger discussion surrounding differences of  religion and humanism in European culture. This paper aims to discuss the complexity and importance of literature from the age of exploration and colonization.