The so-called cargo cults are new religious movements best known from Oceania, especially Melanesia. Their focus of attention is the mystery surrounding the new goods brought by light-skinned strangers in awe-striking ocean-going vessels and (later) in great flying bird-like containers. With the increasingly serious impact of outsiders on traditional Pacific cultures from the mid-19th century, accompanied by appealing Christian missionary messages, various socioreligious movements arose in response. The most distinctive of these have involving agitated collective expectation of the coming of new or European-styled goods (later internationally marketed commodities), or “the cargo” (pidgin: Kago). The Melanesian cases have been typically fired by prophet-type leaders, often reflecting transition between indigenous traditions and a more settled indigenous Christianity.

Earliest categorized by German missionaries to New Guinea as Schwärmgeister ...

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