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Reassessing Revitalization Movements

Perspectives from North America and the Pacific Islands

Michael E. Harkin

Publication Year: 2004

The escalating political, economic, and cultural colonization of indigenous peoples over the past few centuries has spawned a multitude of revitalization movements. These movements promise liberation from domination by outsiders and incorporate and rework elements of traditional culture. Reassessing Revitalization Movements is the first book to discuss and compare in detail the origins, structure, and development of religious and political revitalization movements in North America and the Pacific Islands (known as Oceania). The essays cover the twentieth-century Cargo Cults of the South Pacific, the 1870 and 1890 Ghost Dance movements in western North America, the Tuka Movement on Fiji in 1885, as well as the revitalistic aspects of contemporary social movements in North American and Oceania.

Reassessing Revitalization Movements takes Anthony F. C. Wallace’s concept of revitalization movements and examines the applicability of the model to a variety of religious and anticolonial movements in North America and the Pacific Islands. This extension of the revitalization movement model beyond its traditional territory in Native anthropology enriches our understanding of movements outside of North America and offers a holistic view of them that embraces phenomena ranging from the psychic to the ecological. This cross-cultural approach provides the most stimulating and broadly applicable treatment of the topic in decades.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

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pp. vii-xii

My original article, "Revitalization Movements," appeared in the American Anthropologist in 1956. It was an early outgrowth of research for a biographical study of the 19th-century Seneca prophet Handsome Lake. As that project evolved, it became less exclusively a life and times work comparable to my earlier Native American biography, ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book came out of an invited session at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Chicago. Our ability to hold such a large session in "prime time" was entirely due to the sponsorship of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, for which we are very grateful. The ...

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Introduction: Revitalization as History and Theory

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pp. xv-xxxvi

As the title of this book makes clear, we are examining two classes of cultural phenomena (political-religious movements) within the same basic theoretical framework. The central thesis of this book is indeed that the model of the revitalization movement, associated mainly with the work of the Americanist anthropologist and ethnohistorian Anthony F. ...

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Chapter 1. Indian Revolts and Cargo Cults: Ritual Violence and Revitalization in California and New Guinea

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pp. 1-61

Resistance is a word that has been overused in recent years. But it properly describes the militantly anticolonial and sometimes violent aspects of North American prophetic movements, Pacific Island cargo cults, and revitalization movements in other parts of the world. For almost five decades, anthropologists, historians, and religious scholars have deployed ...

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Chapter 2 Visions of Revitalization in the Eastern Woodlands: Can a Middle-Aged theory Stretch to Embrace the First Cherokee Converts?

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pp. 61-87

On July 10, 1817, a young Cherokee woman named Catharine Brown requested permission to enroll at Brainerd, a new mission school in southeastern Tennessee. Cyrus Kingsbury, the missionary who interviewed her, responded with skepticism. Her wealth, beauty, and confidence unsettled him: "With all her gentleness and apparent modesty, ...

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Chapter 3. Priests and Prophets: The Politics of Voice in the Pacific

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pp. 88-103

The problem of revitalization or similar collective phenomena has been the focus of anthropological analysis for more than half a century. The time span of the discussion itself guarantees that a lot has happened, not only in the world but in anthropological theorizing during that time. Instead of following a dictionary definition of the term, "giving new ...

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Chapter 4. The Wasitay Religion: Prophecy, Oral Literacy, and Belief on Hudson Bay

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pp. 104-123

Ever since Anthony F. C. Wallace's seminal work on revitalization movements in the 1960s, the concept of revitalization has served to frame discussions of religious innovations and renewals in postcontact indigenous societies. Yet, like Richard White's "middle ground" more recently (Joel Martin [ch. 2]), the phrase may become a substitute for more developed ...

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Chapter 5. Revitalization in Wartime Micronesia

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pp. 124-142

During World War II the people of Micronesia suffered physical destruction, social dislocation, and psychological stress. The end of the war in Micronesia was accompanied by a momentous transition from Japanese to American rule. As we might predict from the research on revitalization movements, one response to these events was indigenous ...

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Chapter 6. Revitalization as Catharsis: The Warm House Cult of Western Oregon

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pp. 143-161

The revitalization model has proved productive in the ethnohistorical interpretation of religious cults and nativistic movements. Under this model, revitalization movements are viewed as collective responses to negative conditions ranging from deprivation to severe trauma. The "index case," the Handsome Lake movement among the Seneca ...

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Chapter 7. The Evolution of Revitalization Movements Among the Yangoru Boiken, Papua New Guinea

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pp. 162-182

In his lively and engaging book on Melanesian "cargo cults," Lindstrom (1993) queries why these movements so fascinate the West.1 With their themes of longing for cargo, he concludes, they perhaps echo "our own diffuse but powerful discourses of desire and love, particularly the melancholy of unrequited love" (1993:184). This is an intriguing idea, ...

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Chapter 8. Recontextualizing Revitalization: Cosmology and Cultural Stability in the Adoption of Peyotism Among the Yuchi

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pp. 183-205

During summer 1993 I had the great fortune to begin a personal and research relationship with members of the Yuchi tribe, people of Woodland Indian heritage who live today in the region south and west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. My initial studies of Yuchi ethnography were focused on the recent history of community social institutions, particularly the ...

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Chapter 9. New Life for Whom?: The Scope of the Trope in Marshall Islands Kürijmõj

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pp. 206-224

I have written extensively about Kürijmõj, a four-month celebration performed each year by the people of Ujelang and Enewetak Atolls in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (see Carucci 1980, 1993, 1997b). This lengthy cycle of feasting and reverie draws on components of local cosmology and elements from a complex colonial past, and I have argued ...

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Chapter 10. Ogitchida at Waswaaganing: Conflict in the Revitalization of Lac du Flambeau Anishinaabe Identiry

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pp. 225-246

On January 23, 1983, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found that the off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights that the Chippewa bands in Wisconsin had stipulated in the treaties of 1837 and 1842 were in tact in Lac Courte Oreilles v. Voigt. The case had been in the courts for nine years and had begun when the Tribble brothers at Lac ...

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Chapter 11. Expressions of Identity in Tahiti

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pp. 247-260

Ann McMullen (ch. 12) discusses the relationship between revitalization and the invention of tradition. She suggests that invented traditions are embedded in Anthony F. C. Wallace's (1956c) theory of revitalization, in that both ideas "involve conscious, internal efforts to direct culture change" (McMullen [ch. 12]), usually unifying socialization in response ...

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Chapter 12. "Canny About Conflict": Nativism, Revitalization, and the Invention of Tradition in Native Southeastern New England

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pp. 261-278

A hundred years ago, native peoples in southeastern New England were largely considered extinct or represented only by mixed-blood individuals with few cultural survivals. Yet today the same area is home to numerous tribes whose members participate as native people in local economies and social contexts through cultural events, gaming ...

References Cited

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pp. 279-328


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pp. 329-332


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pp. 333-341

E-ISBN-13: 9780803203884
E-ISBN-10: 0803203888

Publication Year: 2004