Millenarianism in colonial societies
|Part of a series on|
|Anthropology of religion|
|Social and cultural anthropology|
Millenarianism has been found through history among people who rally around often-apocalyptic religious prophecies that predict a return to power, the defeat of enemies, and/or the accumulation of wealth. These movements have been especially common among people living under colonialism or other forces that disrupt previous social arrangements.
The phrase "millennialist movement" has been used by scholars in anthropology and history to describe the common features of these religious phenomena when viewed as social movements, and has most often been used to describe the social movements that have taken place in colonized societies.
Christianity itself can be seen as originating in a millenarian movement among Jewish people living under Roman rule, although its characteristics as a social movement quickly changed as it spread through the Roman Empire.
Some millenarian movements include:
- The Ghost Dance movement among Native Americans.
- Tenskwatawa the "Shawnee Prophet" called for return to ancestral ways and defeat of European colonial power.
- The Xhosa cattle-killing movement of South Africa, led by the prophet Nongqawuse.
- The Righteous Harmony Society was a Chinese movement reacting against Western colonialism.
- The Maji Maji Rebellion was influenced by an African spirit medium who gave his followers war medicine that he said would turn German bullets into water.
- Chilembwe uprising - a 1915 uprising in Nyasaland led by a millenarian priest
- The Melanesian John Frum cargo cult believed in a return of their ancestors brought by Western technology.
- Burkhanism was an Altayan movement led by a visionary that reacted against Russification.