Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion

By Morton Klass; Maxine Weisgrau | Go to book overview

17 Cargoism in Irian Jaya Today

Benny Giay and Jan A. Godschalk

It appears that many people in Irian Jaya today are protesting against the manner in which they are, as they perceive it, being denied fundamental human rights, guarantees of social interaction based on fairness, and a reasonable share of economic benefits secured through 'development', and are searching for something that goes beyond this: a world in which they will enjoy health and a life of youthfulness; in which they will live with one another in peace and happiness, and have access to wealth without limit. In the past decade the number of 'cargo' movements has increased considerably and growing clouds of cargoism are spreading over the territory. In this essay we present data on activities from four areas in Irian Jaya. In the brief discussion that follows and in which we focus primarily on causal factors, we venture the thesis that in all these cases we have to do with (new) religious movements. The recurring combination of expectations based on traditional religious beliefs with feelings of political and economic discrimination may result in explosive situations. There will be little reason to assume that cargoism will decrease significantly. --Author's Abstract


Introduction

Today cargoism is all-pervasive, even rampant, in Irian Jaya. Throughout the province movements have broken out, and are continuing, on a scale that is without precedent, except perhaps for the World War II period.

A survey of salvation movements in Irian Jaya from the middle of the 19th century until the late 1970s was presented by Godschalk ( 1983) at a Seminar on Melanesian Movements, held in Pyramid, Irian Jaya in 1980. It incorporated, but also augmented, an earlier overview by Kamma ( 1972:283-298). The original

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Oceania 63( 4) ( June 1993): 330-344.

-329-

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