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Eating Spiders: Cultural Understanding.

Eating Spiders: Cultural Understanding.


  1. How you would respond to someone eating a spider or any other “creepy crawler” would likely depend on your cultural background, upbringing, and individual preferences. People from different cultures and backgrounds have diverse attitudes and reactions towards unusual or unconventional foods. Some possible responses could include:
    • Curiosity: Some individuals might be curious about trying new foods and would be open to understanding the cultusuch dishes’ significance and taste. Others might find eating spiders or insects repulsive due to cultural conditioning or personal aversions to certain foods.
    • Respectful observation: A more empathetic response might involve observing the practice without judgment and understanding its cultural context and significance.
    • Refusal to partake: Some people may choose not to participate in eating such foods based on personal beliefs, dietary restrictions, or strong aversions.
    • Cultural relativism: Some individuals may adopt a perspective of cultural relativism, recognizing that what is considered normal or acceptable in one culture may differ from another.

Your response would be influenced by your cultural background, exposure to diverse cuisines, and openness to trying new foods.

  1. Your response to someone eating a spider or another unconventional food may or may not be considered ethnocentric, depending on your attitude and behavior. Ethnocentrism refers to the tendency to judge other cultures by the standards and values of one’s culture, often viewing one’s culture as superior.

If your rIt could be considered ethnocentric and involves making negative judgments, expressing disgust, or demeaning the practice without attempting to understand its cultural context, then it is if your response is open-minded, respectful, and seeks to learn about and appreciate the cultural significance of the practice, it would not be ethnocentric.

It is important to approach unfamiliar cultural practices with an open and non-judgmental attitude, recognizing that cultural diversity is a fundamental aspect of our global society.

  1. The sociological imagination, as developed by C. Wright Mills, encourages us to understand the intersection of personal experiences and larger social structures. To explain the practice of people eating things that other cultures see as abominable using the sociological imagination, we can consider several factors:
    • Cultural relativism: The concept that the historical, social, and environmental contexts of a particular group shape cultural practices and beliefs that one culture finds acceptable, another may not, and this is often influenced by factors such as available resources, climate, and traditions.
    • Cultural adaptation: People’s diets are often influenced by the environment in which they live. Insects and spiders, for example, maybe a readily available source of protein in certain regions, leading to their inclusion in the local cuisine.
    • Symbolism and meaning: Many cultural practices, including food choices, carry symbolic and ritualistic significance. Certain foods may be tied to religious beliefs, social bonding, or other cultural traditions.
    • Social structures: Social norms and values play a significant role in shaping dietary choices. These norms are often reinforced through socialization and can vary widely from one culture to another.

The sociological imagination helps us understand that what may seem unusual or abominable in one cultural context is perfectly normal and meaningful in another. It encourages us to consider the broader social, historical, and environmental factors that shape human behavior and practices.

Eating Spiders: Cultural Understanding.





A few years ago I watched a program on the National Geographic Channel that examined the lifestyle of a certain indigineous tribe in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest. The cultural anthropologists were following a group of village hunters through the jungle and closely watched the natives as they caught several dozen large Goliath bird-eading tarantulas. And when I say large, I mean gigantic – as least as far as spiders are concerned! And get this; not only do they eat birds as their name implies, but also lizards, small mammals and even snakes are on the menu.

I was incredulous as I watched the hunters, upon returning to their village, start a fire to heat a large pile of rocks, and then afterward place the spiders on the rocks, or better said – coals. Yes, they roasted the spiders as part of a village feast.

And if you watched the program, you would indeed conclude it was feast, as many of the villagers, young and old, ate tarantula for dinner. And other than the hair, which is used by the animal as a form of defense against other predators, the people consumed the entire spider. The favorite part for most of them was apparently the creamy content of the thorax, which had the consistency of toothpaste. They even used the animal’s fearsome one-inch fangs as……you guessed it, toothpicks!

I have three questions for you.

1. How do you think you would respond if you were in the presence of someone eating a spider or any other so-called creepy crawler, for that matter? Explain why.

2. Would your response be considered ethnocentric? Why or why not?

3. How can we use the sociological imagination to explain the practice of people eating things that other cultures see as abominable?

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