Monday 4 August 2008

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The Anthropology Report

Professor Margaret Mead
Division of Social Sciences
Fordham University
Lincoln Center
New York, NY

2nd August 1970

Dear Professor Mead,

This is my monthly report on the natives of Inner Melbourne. A very strange lot as you predicted.

This month, I think I should record the ritual they refer to as the “Hard Rubbish Collection”. It has many similar characteristics to some of the cargo cults in other parts of the South Pacific.

During daylight hours, the senior females of the tribe move certain artefacts onto the grass verge that sits between the houses and the carriageway. Then at night, the senior males in each family group move up and down the carriageway collecting artefacts from the verge and taking them back to their caves to be stored until the next collection season.

Towards the end of the ritual, the local head men send a truck that collects the remaining artefacts for their own use.

Although these artefacts obviously have a powerful totemic value, they could generally be categorised as useless and without any intrinsic value.

I’m still not sure what signals the start of each collection season, but it is obviously some significant external event as all the natives of a particular area participate at once.

Next month I’ll report on the ritual burning of meat that the senior males carry out each weekend of the summer season.

Yours truly,

Sally A. Dickinson
Post Grad. Student

© John Sawyer – August 2008


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