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Trickery or Secrecy? On Andrew Lattas's Interpretation of "Bush Kaliai Cargo Cults"

Holger Jebens
Anthropos
Bd. 97, H. 1. (2002), pp. 181-199
Published by: Anthropos Institut
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40465624
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Trickery or Secrecy? On Andrew Lattas's Interpretation of "Bush Kaliai Cargo Cults"
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Abstract

Based on the recent deconstruction of the term "cargo cult," the relevant literature, the so-called "cargo archive," can be taken as a starting point for comparing Melanesian and Western forms of coping with cultural otherness. The work of Andrew Lattas is of interest in this context, because he interprets cargo cults as one of these forms. By analysing his recent monograph, "Cultures of Secrecy," in relation to his earlier publications, however, it becomes obvious that Lattas mainly uses his data, which have been obtained using questionable methods and are presented with poor contextualization, to substantiate a preconceived binary model contrasting subjugating, "bad" Westerners to subjugated, "good" Kaliai (West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea). One consequence of the methodological and theoretical problems inherent in Lattas's work is a need to check his theses on the basis of specific ethnographic material. Moreover, to make subsequent intercultural comparisons possible, unlike Lattas himself one would have to take the insights of the self-reflexive turn in anthropology seriously and view ethnographic fieldwork itself as a process in which all the parties involved have to cope with cultural otherness.

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