Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)HT/C
Extent1908 items
DescriptionThe term Oceania as defined by Harold Turner is taken to embrace the general area of the south-west Pacific: the three cultural areas of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia (including Hawaii to the north and Easter Island to the east, as well as New Zealand to the south), together with Australia. The reason for this grouping is the general understanding that all of these peoples originated from the area now known as Indonesia. Indonesia is not included in this grouping; it is placed in Section G - Asia. However, the area of Irian Jaya (The region has also been called Netherlands New Guinea (1895-1962), West New Guinea (1962-63), West Irian (1963-73), Irian Jaya (1973-2001), and Papua (2002-2003)) which is an area of Indonesia is included, the reason being that the indigenous inhabitants of Irian Jaya have belonged culturally to Melanesia, as their new religious movements demonstrate. The emphasis on cultural background rather that political allegiance is also demonstrated in the inclusion of Hawaii in the Oceania section rather than in the North American section.

The indigenous populations of Oceania despite their small numbers have produced a large number of movements and much literature. A particular wealth of material occurs in the collection in two areas, Melanesia (particularly Papua New Guinea) and New Zealand amongst the Maori People. In Melanesia the widespread reaction known as 'cargoism' has lead to hundreds of movements, many undocumented and short lived. The dramatic and sometimes tragic nature of these movements led Europeans to call them 'cargo cults' to record them in reports and in more academic studies as can be found in the collection. From an early stage this area was also particularly targeted by Lutherans many of German original or background and who engaged in systematic and detailed studies that were less common in other missionary circles, again this is demonstrated in the type of material found in this section.

A different set of factors operated in New Zealand, where the extent of the literature seems in inverse relation to the size of the population - there were at most no more than two or three hundred thousand Maoris, and this population had declined to approximately 40,000 by the end of the 19th century. A recovery has since occurred and over 60 movements have been recorded as is shown in this section, although many have been local and short lived. Other factors influencing this large production of literature as shown in the collection is believed to be the intimate contact between European settlers and the Maoris, a situation not felt elsewhere in Oceania. Europeans of all kinds documented the new religious movements in different ways: missionaries and traders, travelers and settlers, the military during periods of war, government officers, politicians, journalists, and more recently academics especially historians and anthropologists. In addition Maoris early achieved literacy and Maori writers and scholars have increasingly written on this subject as can be seen in this section.

References: 'Bibliography of New Religious Movements in Primal Societies, Volume 3, Oceania (by) Harold W. Turner : Place, Publisher and Date of Publication: Boston, Massachusetts, G.K. Hall & Co., 1990, p ix-xii
Access StatusOpen


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