Sample Cultural Studies Paper on The Phantom Cargo

According to the Marvis Harris in his book Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches, cargo cult is a group of religious people emerging from a tribal society colonization particularly in New Guinea. The author concentrates on the cults of the Madang area in New Guinea. In the deep forest, they lived a group of people who were always on the look out twenty four hours a day waiting upon the planes believed to have been sent by their ancestors to land. These planes carried cargo in the form of radio, clothes, motorcycles, food and wrist watches.

From the story, it is very clear that mainly centered on the concept of religion and the outcome of what happens when modern and primitive cultures come together. The author tries to convey the concept of religion and how the human race has been involved in its invention. From ancient times all tribes had developed a concept of religion that united the tribes by getting blessings and guidance from unseen power. The cargo cults are believed to have emerged during World War 2 when the Americans South Pacific islands such as New Guinea. To avoid any form of conflict with the indigenous people of New Guinea, the Americans offered gifts in the form of manufactured items to the natives. The indigenous tribes were amazed by these gifts from the developed world. They were happy to receive them even if they had no idea where they came from. They also had no idea that they had been made by man. The elders interpreted these act of kindness as a gift from the ancestors who had facilitated their delivery. They also believed that is was the obligation of people who had wealth to share with vulnerable. Indigenous people in the island continued to believe in their rituals as long these gifts continued to be delivered by the Americans

When the war ended the Americans went back to their country and the cargo stopped coming to the island to deliver gifts. The people on the island continued to seek interventions from the ancestors to bring back the cargo but it did not happen. They decided to build ships using bamboos and radio antennas just like the way the Americans had set up their base in a desperate effort to make the cargo come back again. This type religion mindset can still be found in people today. I believe that within the Cristian religion all their actions interpreted through restoration, reformation and their expressions can be related to the mentality of the cargo. It is believed that the cargo cult is related to stories in the Bible. When God created Adam and Eve, he provided them with everything they wanted in order survive. However, when they sinned, He took away almost everything from them, which led to suffering. When the cargo went away and stopped bringing goods to the indigenous people, they believed that their ancestors were angry with them.

The chapter ‘Phantom Cargo’ is meant for people who believe that the only way to change the world is by changing what other people think. The author believes that no matter how people behave, it should be taken as a way of enabling them to survive both socially and economically. Also, without the exploitation of the African resources and the availability of the cheap labour, the Europeans could not have gotten so rich. Therefore, it was the right of the indigenous people to receive the products from the Americans, even though they were not in a position to afford them.