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 ?
McDowell (this volume), however, includes my position with those of Leavitt and Lattas in that we all try to explain rather than critique 'cargo cult.'
Just why Burridge settled on the cargo cult as his theme, personalized as Mambu, is not made explicit within his text.
The sense of romance underlying the story of the cargo cult is an idea that Lindstrom describes thoroughly and persuasively, but this is only one side of the cargo story.
Cargo cult beliefs and rituals seek to create and introduce an alternative space or moment within the present; and they do so by seeking to alter the relationship between what is near and what is far-off, what is present and what is missing, what is current and what occupies the alternative times of the past and future.
Because of the recurrence of cargo cult type behavior, a certain 'madness' therefore continues to inhabit cargo cult discourse.
We second-guess the 'natives,' and wind up second-guessing ourselves; I know of no theory of cargo cult or millenarian activity that does not conform to this practice.
In cargo cult writings, the term can refer to a variety of themselves as diverse entities: the entire West, German missionaries, British colonialists, American anthropologists, some combination of these, or none of the above.
This perception of beneficent ancestors is evident in the current cargo cult for whom helpful whites are lineal ancestors or deceased close kin.
The following wear I started performing The Least Cargo Cult, which details the international financial crisis and my time on an island in the South Pacific where the people do not universally accept the value of money.
In my view at the time, anthropology was too often a marriage of the fixation on "understanding the native" with what Eric Wolf once called "the frisson effect" of exoticism that led to an interest in just one kind of rebellion: the pathological conduct of the cargo cult. The text titles of this period were revealing: The Trumpet Shall Sound (9); Road Belong Cargo: A Study of the Cargo Movement in the Southern Mandong District, New Guinea; and New Heaven, New Earth: A Study of Millenarian Activities, and so on.
Mr Cuffe told the Irish Planning Institute there had been a "cargo cult" of re-zoning where controls on land were changed for all the wrong reasons.