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Lecture

Wavoka and cults.doc

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 3320
Professor
Arun Chaudhuri

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05/12/2013 23:45:00 Wovoka/Jack Wilson (1980)- he was a peyote indian who lived in various parts of Nevada (not the culture we talked about last time), he grew up to become a prophet and a visionary, but that did not happen right away, he grew up in the late 1800’s west and for the earlier part of life worked for an American rancher. At this time there was a strong social political context going on marked by the great expansion where white settlers were moving slowly into the west and it was known as the frontier, slowly they kept developing the frontier further west (seeking more land etc). the movements of the settlers into the west was supported by the Notion of American th manifest destiny –this was a 19 century popular idea among many American political figures which basically said that virtuous white Americans were ordained by god to take over, spread etc and so the colonialist agenda was seen more as something that was religious. By the late 1800s, there’s a strong settler and military presence and this meant that indigenous that were living in these places were being pushed off their lands and created conflict. The indigenous started becoming impoverished because lack of housing, sources etc programs were also established to take out aboriginal languages at the time. Wilson started reading the bible while working with the American rancher, but his father was someone who was a spiritual leader who could even change the weather thus he was seen as having inherited some sort of power. He then started to practice some of the magic, including the weather control, he thought he had. At the age of 20, his life changed, at the height of a solar eclipse he fell sick and developed a fever and thus lost consciousness and when he did he had a dream where he was visited by god. God takes jack up to heaven and reveals all the ancestors of his community and no poverty and was presented by god as a new world for the indigenous world where the white settlers would go back to the east. God also revealed to him that this heaven should be brought down to earth.. and so he taught Wilson the ghost dance which was a ritual… and if it was preformed properly, it would transform the earth to this heaven like place. (painting depicting the ogala Sioux ghost dance etc)… this ritual was supposed to go in a circle (edge of a circle) rotating like the sun and would go on for 5 days (with as many people possible), and go into a state of trance because of the dizziness. When he wakes up he becomes a prophet, he takes his indigenous name and believes that now its his duty to bring this vision to his people and the dance. *there was a millennial feel to it where one period would end and another would begin; He thought he was a messiah… when he would do the rituals, people would follow and listen to what he had to say and eventually began to see him as a prophet. The ghost dance slowly started being embedded in the different groups including the group of mormins, soux etc and started to become popularized (mormins were interesting because they had a prophecy type thing where they awaited a messiah in the late 1800’s and the leader thought of jack Wilson as the messiah). As the dance became more popular, this made the government very anxious because they didn’t know anything about it and unity was forming and unity was against them (would form revolts etc). Thus they tried to break up the movement->led to a number of conflicts. This most significant was related to conflicts related to the ghost dance (lakoyta version of the ghost dance which different than the original, basically it was much more millenialist (involved more drastic measures or view of the settlers being wiped off)), this prompted government to go to the lakoyta people and seize control of the lakoyta reservations bc they got scared, and led to the assassination of sitting bull and the wounded knee massacre which was a very significant conflict: usa cavalry was called in to escort lakoyta soux who were trying to be relocated and this led to conflicts between the military and the soux; the soux started doing the ghost dance and while doing so the americans started shooting at the natives. After this the ghost dance started tapering off (some people started disbelieving in the ghost dance for ex particularity bc in the soux tribe, the dance was supposed to make their clothes bullet proof and that didn’t protect them in the wounded knew outbreak. And there were further American outbreaks that led to its decline. Ghost dance – (Paiute, Lakota/Sioux and others); jack Wilson; wounded knee massacre; syncretism: old concept that refers to the combination and intermixing of different cultural systems and beliefs and religious practices. In the case of the ghost dance, there is major significance, on the one dance had messianic and millennial (new millennium arrives and the old is destroyed).; messianic; millennial;. –these were very christianic belief… the round circle dance. This is also a new religious movement? That forms out of political movement or colonialism. *ghost dance is famous and often studied, its clear and significant example of a new and novel type of religious movement, and a new way of the creation of religion. It also is a case of syncretism: old concept that refers to the combination and intermixing of different cultures or religious systems such as beliefs or practices and in the case of the ghost dance there is a sync between Christianity and the soux, they had major millennial and messianic themes (messiah being sent from god to deliver a message) and these two themes are highly christianic and these are sort of mixed with the natives beliefs and practices in the sense that they were combined in the ritual of round circle dance and presented with their beliefs. Its also a historical ex of a new religious movement that formed out of a direct response to a social and political context, it shows a religious movement forming in order to address social and political realities faced by these people and the ghost dance forms to oppose colonialism, it is also an ex of revitalization movements: theoretical term (popularized by wallance) that looked explicitly at how religious movements get created and globalized and try to bring about social and political change. W was interested in how and why new ideas get generated in response to these social and poitical issues and how they would bring about changes in this, w is also interested in what happens when these ideas are created and when they seek change (if they get picked up or if they get organized etc) scholars referred to this as revitalization movements: popularized by A F C WALLANCE. –theory of religion as an agent of social and political change. So he therefore defined revitalization movement as a new religion that got created or invented as a deliberate, organized, conscious effort by members of a society to construct more satisfying culture (basically come up with the social political context at that point isn’t working for the people anymore and appeared out of extreme stress (poverty illness oppression etc). He often thought of these movements to generally stem out of colonial contexts to be more specific…and had encountered this and transformed because of colonialism (they created this sort of context where resources were extracted and other changes). Wallace says that the stress becomes so extreme for people that it becomes too much for them to handle and what happens then is that society will break down and that they will go through mazeway?: set of ideas through which society makes sense of itself and the world around them (why something is a certain way etc); mazeway: the revitalization process a) the mazeway reformulation b) communication (spread the vision) c)organization –charisma (build and follow it) d)adaptation e) cultural transformation f) routinization. General types of revitalization: nativistic, revivalistic, messianic, millennial. -setting or context becomes stressful enough + too much and the society or world view starts to break down… a society mazeway starts to crumble – fundamental ideas in which the society can make sense of themselves and of the world around them (HUH)-this in a sense would form a new sort of mazeway because you start forming new ideas and thus your sort of revitalizing -he was also interested in what happens when new ideas occur when stress occurs, this is where revitalization movement follows steps in which they would form and become a movement. (270-275 –outlines the different stages). He believes that usually this starts from a prophet type figure that has this revelation about a new way of life or someone who has an intense relationship with some supernatural. In communication a prophet (spreads their vision) forms what he is and beliefs through charisma and is able to communicate it in that sort of way which can then lead into organization (where they build it and follow). He believes that people generally start to follow because of the nature of beliefs of the prophet and like mentioned before the performance of that prophet, ex their charisma. The last few steps tries to describe when the organization takes place, its in the last 3 stages where the actual religious or revitalization movements or religious movements fall a part (very few make it past it) Adaption – once a movement is organized, itll face pressures to adapt to the larger society or other things. If they adapt ,this might bring out cultural transformation. This means that where the new ideas of the movement have an official impact and transform into the larger context. The final step is routinization which means that this is the stage where the ideas become then the new norms and routine. He talks about how movements wont fit the model perfectly, but similar to his model; –main point was to see how religious and political aspects relate to the other wallace often talks about cargo cults…they are another ex of new religious movement, formed in response to a colonial context, refer to movements hat began to be practiced amongst the south pacific/Melanesia: papua new guinea, Fiji Solomon islands. By the mid 1800s they were highly colonized especially by British Germans, there was a strong Christian missionizing presence going on, they also set up plantations (which exploit the land there), the south started accumulating wealth for these British and German plantation companies and caused impoverishment for the indigenous people that lived there. You had many indigenous communities witnessing the British importing all goods and commodities like weapons boats etc and became highly interested in this and began referring to the massive importing as cargo, massive question: where is this stuff coming from and why is it going to the British and not to themselves. The question of the nature cargo led to the formation in some communities new sets of religious beliefs named cargo cults. Was more 1930s they became much more common place, what happened in these movements and that the British were getting this stuff from god and that if they followed some steps or ritualistic steps then, it would bring them closer to god and god would give them the cargo instead of the British. One early documented movement is called the Vailala madness (papa new guinea) they were claiming to be afflicted by some weird dizzy spells, trances, illnesses etc. and so British called it some sort of madness. One guy went missing for 4 days and said he was in trance and said that stuff was prophetic message that the stuff that the British was taking it was actually theirs and that it belonged to the indigenous thus had to reclaim their stuff back. He said that it was the ancestors of local people that were delivering this cargo but it got misdirected to the British so they had reshape their beliefs such as becoming good with the ancestors? And deriving the British out; in order to have this cargo directed to the right people, the islanders held rituals where all sorts of aspects of European life (setting up imitation of dinner tables and sitting there were imitated. More elaborate rituals started forming, took poles and xfstuck them in the ground and they were supposed to the imitations of the wireless radio towers (this would help them communicate with ancestors and fix the direction) … builds on frazers notion of imitation; mimesis-practices of imitation and ___ and usually implies not just copying and imitating but also transformation and change; copying is done to change what is imitated and copied, imitative magic -1930s –cargo cult which was massive called the john frum movement – based on john frum who was a mythical figure and many communities believed he was a messiah (or could be john the babtist) ..he was going to return to the island and deliver all the cargo that was being delivered to the British.. this developed more in the 40s when world war 2 .. people were setting up bases etc so foreign people were there. John frums idea transformed into the notion of messiah as well as soldier apart of the American military.. some said he was black. This dedication or devotion to john was to bring him back and he was supposed to bring back prosperity etc and this would only happen if the indigenous didn’t do what the colonists said.. new mimeic rituals that formed with the idea of john frum.. they began building elaborate model airplanes that they would worship.. some even built massive air strips.. and they built these because they were suppose to represent him coming back on an airplane (contemporary john frum movements are less about cargo but hes still seen as a messianic figure) -the prince phillip movement another type of cargo cult movement.. why it was famous was that the belief that worships prince Philip as a god or messiah, some believing that he’s an ancestor or messiah or god that will bring back prosperity. The origins are unknown maybe the 70s however its gotten more attention over the years (in Vanuatu), it started getting more attention generally at the time when anthros were looking at the south pacific, it is imp to view it in the larger history or larger context in the history of cargo cults, it develops in response to colonialism and social political conditions; the notion of revitalization kind of shows us this or tells us about cargo cults history and it’s social political issues etc and the cargo cults in the 20 century kind of go throug
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