Cargo Cult

Cargo Cult is a millenarian or millennial cult common in Melanesia during the contemporary colonial period. Cult members use magic and rituals to bring cargoes of Western consumer goods. A period of social and political upheaval caused by repeated waves of colonization gave rise to cargo cults in the Melanesian society.
Cargo Cult Sociology Definition

Definition

Cargo Cult is a millenarian or millennial cult common in Melanesia during the contemporary colonial period. Cult members use magic and rituals to bring cargoes of Western consumer goods. A period of social and political upheaval caused by repeated waves of colonization gave rise to cargo cults in the Melanesian society.

Explanation

Melanesia experienced periodic outbursts of various millenarian movements during the modern colonial era. These movements blended indigenous and western beliefs into the idea that performing religious rituals would convince the gods to return the “cargo” that the white man had stolen to the natives. 

The cargo cults frequently encouraged mimicking western behavior through rituals. Even worse, many also believed that by ultimately putting oneself at the gods’ mercy by setting buildings on fire and killing animals and food stocks, the cult believers thought that the cargo would arrive more quickly. Such cults diminished in frequency as locals better understood Western countries’ way of working and use of technology.

Example

Cargo cult believers engaged in clearing ground for airstrips and making imitation radios

 

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