Millenarian Movements - 324 MILLENARIAN MOVEMENTS tion...

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Unformatted text preview: 324 MILLENARIAN MOVEMENTS tion between these two polar types (Meillassoux 1981). International migration has become the focus of much political debate that often clouds its underlying dynamics. To a great extent transnational migrants are attracted by employment possibilities in industries desirous of cheap workers and thus off5et the tendency for firms in developed nations to “run away” to lesser developed nations in search of cheap labor. In Europe re- search has focused on “guest workers” in Nordiern Europe from “sending” nations of the Mediterranean basin. In the United States anthropologists have looked at mi- grants coming from the Caribbean basin (Sutton & Chaney 1992), Mexico (Chavez 1992), and elsewhere. Similar migration patterns are found in Africa and Latin America. Contemporary research on rural- urban migration examines how migrants are incorporated economically, socially, and culturally. But whereas the previous research took place during a period of gen— eral economic expansion in the “receiving” areas, especially Western Europe and the United States, the economies of these areas were not so robust in the 19805 and 19905. Antimigrant sentiment is now widespread in “receiving” countries and research on immigration in these areas has thus in- cluded related issues of ethnic conflict and identity formation (Mandel 1989). Migration is most often associated with great suffering and misery, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of REFU- GEES, who are a special category of migrants forced to move because of some combina— tion of poverty, population growth, war. perSecution, famine, andl’or natural disaster (Malkki 1992). The United Nations esti- mates that 100 million people currently live outside of the country in which they were born; 30 million poor people move annu— ally from rural to urban areas. The magni— tude of these figures causes some experts to speak of a new era of human migration that will demand that anthropology give the topic a more central focus than it has in the past. MK further reading Castles 84 Miller 1993; Eades 1987; Malkki 1995a; Piore 1979 millenarian movements are charac- terized by declarations of the end of one age or form of life and the arrival or dawn- ing of another. Many religious movements have their beginnings or revival in mi]- lenarianism. For example, the history of Christianity in Europe, and indeed much of European political history, may be seen as expressing a succession of millenarian waves and reactions to them. Norman Cohn (1970) described the numerous reli- gious millenarian movements through the Middle Ages, which peaked in the Protes- tant Reformation. Many of them were mo- tivated in the predictions of Joachim of Fiore, who calculated the start of an age when social inequalities would be abolished and the have-nots would inherit the wealth of the earth. Fiore’s influence was far- reaching, evident in English Puritanism and Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. Cohn argued that many secular political ideologies and movements in Europe continue to exhibit features of religious millenarianism. These include various anarchist and marxist political movements. Some contemporary forms of NATIONAL- ISM, especially those that grew as resistance to the conditions of imperial and colonial expansion and domination, have mil- lenarian aspects. The social and political foundations of religious millenar'ianism are associated with modes of alienation, social and economic deprivation or political oppression. These have been broadly described on a global scale for colonialized peoples in Lanter- nari’s (1963) classic survey. Among the best-recorded millenarian movements are the CARGO CULTS of Melanesia and the Pacific and the Ghost Dance and Peyote cults among North American Indians (La Barre 1970). The latter have been de- scribed as a response to COLONIALISM, with major explanations concentrating on the movements as reflecting the psychological consequences of, and expressing attempts to overcome, social and economic depriva- tion. The Ghost Dance is an important example of a religio-political resistance movement that drew much of its force from transformations within Indian cos- mological and religious ideas. Similar dynamics can be identified in Melanesia and the Pacific, though the British anthro- pological structural—functional tradition reduces them to psychological and relative deprivation theories. One significance of Melanesian cargo cults - so—called because they prophesy the massive influx of wealth from overseas v is their non-peripheral character, for many millenatian move- ments appear to be most prevalent among socially and economically marginalized groups. Melanesian cargo cults are major, continuing and recurrent, religio-politicaI movements involved in contemporary so- cial and economic transformations in the region. There is evidence of cargo cult ac— tivity at the very start of European penetra— tion. They seem to go through various phases ranging from acceptance to resis- tance. On the surface the Vailala move- ment at the Paran' Delta of New Gurhea during the 19203 appeared to colonial ad- ministrators to express an alarming de- structive rejection of indigenous culture. On closer inspection it is seen to have manifested processes of social and political reorganization and strong indications of resistance to colonial rule (F. Williams 1976; Worsley 1968). The form and pro- cess of cargo movements are shaped by the particular cosmological and exchange basis ofmany Melanesian societies (see Burridge 1960, 1969). The cults demonstrate the force of indigenous cultural factors in the formations of change and provide consider- able insight into the dynamics of cultural and cosmological invention. Overall the impetus for millenarianism appears to be radical social, economic, and technologically based marginalization or shifts in the organization of experience. But ideological factors should not be excluded. Certain religious ideologies, such as Chris- tianity, have doctrinal features that may encourage routine millenarian processes. In this sense the presence of Christian missionizing may be conceived as one mo— tivating factor. The marked seetarianism of Christianity, especially manifest in colos rtialized territories or in socially and eco- nomically depressed regions, expresses strong millenarian elements. Millenarian movements are created and embraced by populations in an effort to imaginatively re— .oenter themselves in the dynamics of their realities and to reestablish control over life circumstances. A rationalist tendency in .much anthropology has often described 'rnillenarianism as an example of the irratio- MODE 0F PRODUCTION 325 nal propensities in human activity, espe- cially religious action. But it may be more fruitful to see the often fantastic cultural formings of millenarian movements as ex- amples of the imaginative capacity of hu— man beings, which is always engaged in some way or another in the processes whereby they reshape their realities. BK See also RELIGION, SOCIAL CHANGE further reading Adas 1979; N. Cohn 1970; Eliade 1978; D. Martin 1990; Marty 1986 mode of production is composed of forces ofprodnm'oo, which can be defined as the army of roofs, teclzm'ques, mareniafs, and objects used in the labor process, or the obiects that mediate the relations between humans and nature in production, and rela- tions of production, which can be defined as the relations of property and distribution by means of which labor is mobilized and the objects of labor appropriated. It is a central concept in Marxist analysis and has also been used in a range ofanthropological studies (Godelier 19775 Terray 1972; E. Wolf 1982). Together, Marx understood the forces and relations of production to constitute the economic structure of society, and he placed forces and relations of produc— tion in dynamic relationship to each other, a relationship generally based on com- plementarity or correspondence. That is, relations of production can be seen to cor— respond to, or be appropriate for, a particu— lar array or level of the development of productive forces, serving to organize pro— duction for a period. But forces and rela- tions also develop according to differential dynamiCs and can enter into contradiction so that the complementarity or correspon~ dence can be broken, creating a situation of economic and social crisis (Marx & Engels 1947). To understand Marx’s usage, one must first recognize the importance he placed on labor as a distinctively human activity and as a range of material activities and pro- cesses that serve to distinguish and define humans historically. Labor is a creative ac— tivity in which humans interact with nature, using a historically accumulated body of knowledge, techniques, and technology in ...
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Millenarian Movements - 324 MILLENARIAN MOVEMENTS tion...

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