cargo cult


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Related to cargo cult: Richard Feynman, Burning Man

cargo cult,

native religious movement found in Melanesia and New Guinea, holding that at the millennium the spirits of the dead will return and bring with them cargoes of modern goods for distribution among its adherents. The cult had its beginnings in the 19th cent. and received great impetus from World War II, when the Western armed forces littered the islands with surplus cargo. The cult aims to restore a past time and to regain the goodwill of ancestors who are being lured into giving cargo to the white foreigners, cargo originally intended for the native Melanesians. Cargo cults are revivalistic, in that the adherents expect the restoration of a golden age in which they will be reunited with their ancestors, and nativistic (see nativismnativism,
in anthropology, social movement that proclaims the return to power of the natives of a colonized area and the resurgence of native culture, along with the decline of the colonizers.
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), in that the whites are to be driven away. However, as the cargo is composed principally of European goods, and native goods and rituals are abandoned, both the nativistic and revivalistic aspects of cargo cults are qualified by a strong motive toward acculturationacculturation,
culture changes resulting from contact among various societies over time. Contact may have distinct results, such as the borrowing of certain traits by one culture from another, or the relative fusion of separate cultures.
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.

cargo cult

a form of MILLENARIAN or MILLENNIAL MOVEMENT widespread in Melanesia in the modern colonial era, in which followers of the CULT seek to achieve the delivery of cargoes of Western consumer goods by means of MAGIC and RITUAL, e.g. the building of‘airstrips’ and models of planes. Such cults involve the combination of Western and native beliefs in a context of ANOMIE and disruption of the local culture, sometimes by successive waves of colonialism. Based on assumptions in the native religion about the supernatural origins of material resources as well as on an inadequate knowledge of the Western culture, when more adequate knowledge became available, these movements have tended to transform into politico-religious movements (see Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound, 1968).
References in periodicals archive ?
This perception of beneficent ancestors is evident in the current cargo cult for whom helpful whites are lineal ancestors or deceased close kin.
Of course, this is all reminiscent of cargo cult phenomena as again meaningless pieces of paper are passed around in the belief that such rituals are instrumental in generation of wealth.
In his essay on cargo cult science, Feynman described how one researcher managed with great persistence finally to obtain a reliable result in studying rats in a maze.
The Tasmanian government, the leader of this state's cargo cult, has enthusiastically welcomed the latest supernatural benefactors.
Two major cargo cults have been in operation this year, and with his withdrawal from the presidential campaign, Ross Perot has annulled one of them.
His overall themes are whether psychology is a cargo cult, uncontrolled experiments on humans: cargo cult psychotherapy of adults, and whether there is anything you could not do for your child.
Yet, as Martha Kaplan points out, the concept of the cargo cult is a colonial category that does not represent local cosmologies (Kaplan 1990).
Boro fans have been spoiled by too many cash-rich summers of speculation and substance and by our so often productive squared-eyed Sky Sports vigils, pupils locked onto the teasing yellow scrolling bar of plenty with the intensity and belief of a South Pacific cargo cult.
Still, it is a startling thing to behold: Nearly 45 years after the man's tragic death, the liberal establishment remains enthralled to the cargo cult that is the John Kennedy myth.
I then observed to him that it sounded like something I was familiar with from the Sepik cargo cult.
Beneath the volcano in Sulphur Bay followers of the bizarre John Frum Cargo Cult worship and wait for John From.
Chapter IV Ireland and the Marshall Plan: A Cargo Cult in the North Atlantic?