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any of the religious movements chiefly, but not solely, in Melanesia that exhibit belief in the imminence of a new age of blessing, to be initiated by the arrival of a special ''cargo'' of goods from supernatural sources--based on the observation by local residents of the delivery of supplies to colonial officials. Tribal divinities, culture heroes, or ancestors may be expected to return with the cargo, or the goods may be expected to come through foreigners, who are sometimes accused of having intercepted material goods intended for the native peoples.
Cargo Cult, Encyclopedia Britannica entry
Cargo cults are believed to be a reaction to the materialism of Caucasian culture that pervaded Melanesia during the past century. They all share a millennium belief that a mysterious ship or plane will arrive to bring enough food and goods so that people will no longer have to work. Some of the cults emerged during World War II, when tonnes of US materials arrived on remote islands and beaches by ship and plane.
Cult ready for expat exit, South China Morning Post, Dec. 29, 1999
Cargo Cult : Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond by Lamont Lindstrom
Inside the Cult : Religious Innovation and Transmission in Papua New Guinea by Harvey Whitehouse
For the past thirty years, adherents of a millenarian cult in Papua New Guinea, known as the Pomio Kivung, have been awaiting the establishment of a period of supernatural bliss, heralded by the return of their ancestors bearing "cargo." The author of this book, Harvey Whitehouse, was taken for a reincarnated ancestor, and was able to observe the dynamics of the cult from within. From the stable mainstream of the cult, localized splinter groups periodically emerge, hoping to expedite the millennium; the core of this volume concerns the close study of one such group in two Baining villages. The two aspects of the cult studied here--on the one hand a large, uniform, and stable mainstream organization with a well-defined hierarchy demanding orthodoxy of views, and on the other hand a small-scale and temporary movement, emotional and innovatieve in its views--stand in sharp contrast one to the other, but are here seen as divergent manifestations of the same relifious ideology, implemented in differeing ways. This original theory of ''modes of religiosity'' which Whitehouse develops draws on recent findings in cognitive psychology to link styles of codification and cultural transmission to the political scale, structure, and ethos of religious communities.
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Cargo Cults Notes to a ''slide show'' presentation (anthropological study). The slideshow can be downloaded as a Powerpoint presentation.
The Jon Frum Homepage "[T]he Jon Frum Movement is an active cargo cult located on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu."
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