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Mambu: A Melanesian Millennium

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Perhaps the most famous modern-day millenarian movements are the "cargo cults" of Melanesia, active especially during the 1930s and 1950s. Melanesians had long believed that the sign of the millennium would be the arrival of their ancestors in ships bearing lavish material goods, and they interpreted the advent of European vessels as the fulfillment of these expectations. As it became apparent that the Europeans meant to keep the goods and to colonize the people, scores of small-scale revolts known as cargo cults emerged as attempts to secure the cargo and thereby preserve the people's most cherished religious beliefs: native aspirations for individual and cultural redemption fastened on local charismatic leaders, of whom Mambu was the greatest.

    Originally published in 1995.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5158-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  3. Preface to the 1995 Edition
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xix-xxx)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-13)

    When in the field anthropologists frequently have experiences which they tend to reserve for dinner parties or as a relaxation after seminars. Only rarely do such anecdotes find their way into serious discourse. And in many ways it is a shame that this should be so.

    During the first few weeks of my stay with Tangu I was impressed and puzzled by an atmosphere of suspicion, reticence, and even expectancy. But it was not until after some months had passed, after the difficulties of language had been hurdled and we had come to know each other quite well, that Tangu...

  6. CHAPTER I The New Guinea Scene
    (pp. 14-44)

    Because men of European descent are involved in Cargo movements, events such as those which have been described in theProloguebelong to a complex far greater than might be implied simply by ‘Tangu’ or ‘Manam island’. In both localities the situation is to a large extent determined by political and economic decisions taken in Port Moresby, the administrative capital of Australian New Guinea, which itself looks for directives from Canberra. In turn, Canberra must react to what is happening at Lake Success or in other world capitals. The decisions taken inevitably guide or limit to a greater or lesser...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. CHAPTER II The People [i]
    (pp. 45-71)

    To appreciate the Kanaka point of view, and to be aware of the kind of responsibility that is put on the shoulders of administrative officers and missionaries—who must, if they are to initiate changes and a new way of life, first select what they consider to be wrong or mistaken, and then set about persuading their charges that they are wrong or mistaken, and finally accept the consequences of what they do—the problem of synthesis, of grasping new ideas, mastering new techniques, and working out organizational means, must be seen through the interpretative lens formed by their habits...

  9. CHAPTER III The People [ii]
    (pp. 72-111)

    Tangu economic life, gardening, hunting, gathering, and the manufacture of such articles as string bags and clay pots, is largely—but not wholly—a matter of their own internal adaptations and traditional arrangements. So also is the distributive system, the organization of households into co-operative groups, and exchanging and trading across the brother and sister link. At the same time white men and their goods do, and have impinged on economic life in important ways. For the present three may be picked out. First, steel tools have replaced the old stone edged tools. But though these new tools are more...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER IV The People [iii]
    (pp. 112-146)

    Behind Tangu as we find them today lie many years of continuous change and development. Before the grandparents of the present generation had seen a white man, and possibly before they had heard there were such people, a series of far-reaching changes were already in train. Indeed, to argue from a presumption of stability in Tangu during the last century and a half would be most ill-advised.

    Sixty years ago Tangu were very much more numerous than they are today, a factor of some importance in relation to the distributive system and the forms of leadership. The dominating springs of...

  12. CHAPTER V The Myth-dream [i]
    (pp. 147-176)

    For a period of some seventy years leading up to the events narrated in thePrologue, then, Tangu were a developing political entity who suffered a series of crises traceable both to internal and external sources. Conflicts concerning the rules of descent and who were marriageable mates; a deterioration in the status of women combined with doubts as to the legitimacy of marriages contracted after the introduction on a large scale of manufactured dogs’ teeth, the medium in which bridewealth was paid; and an epidemic sickness seen by Tangu as an excessive increase in the activities of sorcerers seem to...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. CHAPTER VI The Myth-dream [ii]
    (pp. 177-207)

    What has been called the Primal Myth appears to contain the first, and perhaps basic, expressions of the Cargo myth-dream. From the time when these feelings first gained consent and became lodged in a myth, until 1951 when Tangu participated in Cargo cult activities, the corpus of a variety of experiences with white men was gradually building up. It may be assumed, at least for the time being, that each separate experience was interpreted in the light of the Primal Myth, the hinge of truth in this context. If there were dissentient voices, or contradictory experiences, they were neither vivid...

  15. CHAPTER VII The Myth-dream [iii]
    (pp. 208-245)

    By the time Mambu started his movement Tangu and the peoples living between them and the coast had become familiar with things European. They saw administrative officers from time to time and, more often, the less formal missionary. Many from Tangu had been to coastal plantations and had had experience with traders, planters, and shipmasters. They had seen, or knew something about, the variety of material goods that Europeans were bringing to New Guinea. They knew what a steamship was, and perhaps one or two had seen an aircraft. But such things could not be accepted, simply. It is evident...

  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  17. CHAPTER VIII Cargo
    (pp. 246-284)

    To answer the question ‘Why do Cargo cults occur?’ would entail raising profound metaphysical issues beyond the scope of this book. Hysteria, dream visions, tensions, release of tensions, rites, ceremonies, time, and place are all too easily explained away. They pose the sort of problems one can pretend to be wrestling with by circling warily round them. Nevertheless, certain features seem plain enough. It is clear that if cargo means manufactured goods, Cargo embraces a set of acute moral problems; that Cargo movements are not due simply to a misunderstanding concerning the origin of manufactured goods, but that they are...

  18. Appendix A
    (pp. 285-288)
  19. Appendix B
    (pp. 289-290)
  20. Index
    (pp. 291-296)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-299)