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Cargo Cults

Cargo cults are millenarian and messianic movements that have emerged in the island nations of Melanesia, though with local variations, as a result of cultural contact. They sprang from the 19th-century arrival of Westerners with their ships loaded with what must have appeared as mind-boggling, out-of-this-world cargos on islands whose inhabitants had hitherto lived in cultural isolation. The doctrines and rituals of the cults derive from traditional beliefs and rituals blended with the moral and apocalyptical teachings of Christian missionaries. They led to nationalistic rebellions, fueled by konors or prophets, against the colonization imposed by Europeans and Australians.

In 1857, the Mansren movement prophesized the coming of a saving god. In 1871, the catalyst around whom the cargo cults would develop, Nikolaï Miklouho-Maclay, a Russian ...

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