Andrew Lattas: Technology, Death and Cargo Cults

Department Seminar

This paper will explore how in their dreams, folk tales and cults, Melanesians took up modern western technology as a powerful material realm for uncovering new meanings, identities and relationships. Not having access to cameras, televisions, videos, telephones, wirelesses and planes did not stop Melanesians entering into a love relationship with the utopian promise of transcendence encoded in modern technology. In taking up the Whiteman’s ways of augmenting seeing, hearing and moving, people sought to take up the position of a dominant Other which they merged with the perspective and position of the dead. Both Whites and the dead offered outside vantage points for escaping current ways of being anchored in the world. Here technology was reworked via a local ontology of mirror worlds, where the surface world and the underground world were mapped onto each other in a redoubling of existence that also offered new utopian ways of policing Melanesian subjects.

Thursday, 31. January, 14.15-16.00
Seminar room, 8th floor
Fosswinckelsgt. 6

Seminar chair: Knut Rio

Everybody is welcome!

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