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Book Cover
Author Schwartz, Theodore, author.

Title Like fire : the Paliau movement and millenarianism in Melanesia / Theodore Schwartz and Michael French Smith
Published Acton, ACT : ANU Press, 2021
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xx, 540 pages) : illustrations, maps
Series Monographs in anthropology series
Monographs in anthropology series.
Contents Preface: Why, how, and for whom -- Spelling and pronunciation of Tok Pisin words and Manus proper names -- 'The last few weeks have been strange and exciting' -- 2. Taking exception -- 3. Indigenous life in the Admiralty Islands -- 4. World wars and village revolutions -- 5. The Paliau Movement begins -- 6. Big Noise from Rambutjo -- 7. After the Noise -- 8. The Cemetery Cult hides in plain sight -- 9. The Cemetery Cult revealed -- 10. Comparing the cults -- 11. Paliau ends the Cemetery Cult -- 12. Rise and fall -- 13. The road to Wind Nation -- 14. Wind Nation in 2015 -- 15. Probably not the last prophet -- Appendix A: Pathomimetic behaviour -- Appendix B: Kalopeu: Manus Kastam Kansol Stori -- Appendix C: Lists of thirty rules and twelve rules
Summary Like Fire chronicles an indigenous movement for radical change in Papua New Guinea from 1946 to the present. The movement's founder, Paliau Maloat, promoted a program for step-by-step social change in which many of his followers also found hope for a miraculous millenarian transformation. Drawing on data collected over several decades, Theodore Schwartz and Michael French Smith describe the movement's history, Paliau's transformation from secular reformer and politician to Melanesian Jesus, and the development of the current incarnation of the movement as Wind Nation, a fully millenarian endeavour. Their analysis casts doubt on common ways of understanding a characteristically Melanesian form of millenarianism, the cargo cult, and questions widely accepted ways of interpreting millenarianism in general. They show that to understand the human proclivity for millenarianism we must scrutinise more closely two near-universal human tendencies: difficulty accepting the role of chance or impersonal forces in shaping events (that is, the tendency to personify causation), and a tendency to imagine that one or one's group is the focus of the malign or benign attention of purposeful entities, from the local to the cosmic. Schwartz and Smith discuss the prevalence of millenarianism and warn against romanticising it, because the millenarian mind can subvert rationality and nourish rage and fear even as it seeks transcendence.--From publisher's website
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Unless stated otherwise, the author retains copyright to their work while ANU Press retains exclusive worldwide rights for the distribution of the book. From 2018, the majority of ANU Press titles are published under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND;, which broadens the ways in which works can be used and distributed. Please refer to the copyright page of each book for more information on a specific title's copyright licensing
Subject Maloat, Paliau
Cargo cults -- Melanesia
Cargo cults -- Papua New Guinea -- Manus Province
Christianity -- Papua New Guinea -- Manus Province
Millennialism -- Melanesia
Millennialism -- Papua New Guinea -- Manus Province
Nativistic movements -- Melanesia
Political culture -- Papua New Guinea -- Manus Province
Cargo cults.
Manners and customs.
Nativistic movements.
Political culture.
Politics and government.
Admiralty Islands (Papua New Guinea) -- Religion
Manus Province (Papua New Guinea) -- Politics and government
Melanesia -- Religious life and customs
Melanesia -- Social life and customs
Papua New Guinea -- Admiralty Islands.
Papua New Guinea -- Manus Province.
Form Electronic book
Author Smith, Michael French, author.
Australian National University Press.
ISBN 1760464252