Friday, February 16, 2007

The Legend of John Frum

I heard a fascinating story on BBC radio yesterday morning about a cargo cult in the South Pacific. Indigenous cultures which fetishize Western goods and technology are labeled cargo cults (a western anthropological term). It seems to be an adaptation of traditional beliefs to a drastically revised world view. For us to consider the point of view of the unindustrialized world carries a high risk of false assumptions. It's important to remember that there are as many globalisms as there are perspectives.

Link to a Smithsonian Magazine story about the cult of John Frum.
Link to a video documenting John Frum Day, via Google Video.
below: A wicker plane built by a cargo cult.)


Don Jason said...

I read about this the other day on the BBC News web site. An incredibly curious phenomenon. You sum it up perfectly, fascinating.

Pete said...

I don't think it's far off the mark to think of these cargo cults as a reaction to the modern world not so different from, say, Robert Rauschenberg's work.