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24 terms

The Gebusi Anthropology Midterm

Midterm #1
Bruce Knauft
Originally trained as a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Knauft
conducted two years of doctoral research among the Gebusi, a remote rainforest
people of Papua New Guinea with whom he still maintains contact.
Papua New Guinea-
Gebusi identify themselves as a distinctive Gebusi-speaking
cultural group within the Nomad River area of the East Strickland River Plain,
Western Province, Papua New Guinea. It is estimated that more than a thousand
different cultural groups exist in Papua New Guinea. People typically live
in villages that rely on subsistence farming.
village of Yibihilu the "place of deep waters."
was or at least in 1980-1982, the single word that best describes
the heart of Gebusi culture. In a way, the term even represents their concept of
culture itself - the beliefs, practices, and styles of living that are special and
unique to them as a people. At one level, Kogwayay refers especially to their
distinctive traditions of dancing, singing, and bodily decoration. Kogwayay
breaks down into three distinct unit of meanings. 1) Kog - togetherness,
friendship, and similarity. 2) wa - to talk. 3) yay - is the exuberant conclusion,
its exclamation point; to cheer.
the most virulent incidents of Gebusi social control and conflict stem
from sorcery attribution. Unlike many New Guinea societies, Gebusi sorcery
suspects are often publicly accused, forced to undergo difficult divinatory trials,
and executed. Gebusi sorcery is the projective attribution of deviance. The
Gebusi believe that all adult deaths from sickness, accident, or suicide caused
by either male assault sorcerers (ogowili) or by male or female parcel sorcerers
1980- husband of Saliam, committed suicide by drinking fish poison,
died childless
1982: widow of Dugawe, mother of one daughter, wife of swamin;
1998- Deceased
initiate,carrier for Bruce and Eileen on first expedition, language helper
and friend of bruce; 1998—husband of Warbwi, father of four children, member
of the seventh day Adventist church; 2008—member of the catholic church,
father of five children. Yuway was a wonderfully decent young man, as sensitive
as he was tall, and strong for a G ebusi.
Boyl and Sayu
Boyl is the mother of Sayu and also the wife of Silap.
Boyl, who the anthropologists thought was the strongest intellect in the village,
was one of Eileen's good friends while their two-year stay with the Gebusi.
Sayu is a "charismatic child" who both Bruce and Eileen adore when they are
living with the Gebusi from 1980-1982. Bruce finds out the Boyl had passed away and that Sayu is a grown man when he returns to the Gebusi in 1998.
First introduced in Chapter 10, Gami is described as a vivacious, full-bodied girl
who was sixteen years old. Gami was to marry Guyul. After a few days of the marriage, and consummating the marriage, Gami decides that she doesn't want to be with Guyul. This causes a large amount of tension in the village and it seems like everyone, including the police is against Gami.
Bruce steps in and tells the people of how things use to be and then takes Gami to her biological mother's house to write a letter to her mother who lives outside Kiunga. Gami refused this offer.
Gami married Wayabay in 2001.
One of the upcoming initiates in Bruce's first stay with the Gebusi and he is first
mentioned during an séance held by Swamin when Swamin is impersonating one
of the Spirit Women. "They [Doliay and Hawi] even told me one day that they would never get married
to women because they had each other as sexual partners" (Pg. 70). Both were still interested in Gebusi women as well as each other. Doliay is caught alone with Nolop in the women's sleeping quarters. After Bruce's return to the Gebusi in 1998 - "The most dramatic case of religious transformation was undoubtedly that of Doliay." He married Boyl in the late 1980's. Killed Sabowey for the death of Boyl, then turned himself into the Nomad police, and was sentenced to six years in prison. He came back, converted to Christianity, and a very good follower of God.
The son of Swamin. Introduced in Chapter 10, he is asking Bruce for male cologne because he was one of the oldest bachelors. His inability to find a wife could be directly related to his reluctance to let go of the old customs. Wayabay married Gami in 2001.
The initiation of the Gebusi happened once every couple years.
Families prepared for the initiation for about a half-year before it occurred.
Both men and women were initiated in the ceremony but the women only were
acknowledged at the final ceremony.
Sponsors of the initiates would produce parts of the costume that was to be
worn during the initiation.
During the transitional period, the initiates were painted yellow which itself,
means "in the middle of" or "wedged in between."
They wore "wigs" and then listened to their senior sponsor as they told them of
Gebusi values of generosity and virtue.
They then had to fetch water from the stream nearby.
During the initiation, they were painted red and wore the traditional costume
and then were shown a depiction of a death of a sorcerer.
Then the festivities began with gift giving, feasting, joking, etc.
Sorcery inquests/accusation
the most virulent incidents of Gebusi social control and conflict stem
from sorcery attribution. Unlike many New Guinea societies, Gebusi sorcery
suspects are often publicly accused, forced to undergo difficult divinatory trials,
and executed. Gebusi sorcery is the projective attribution of deviance. The
Gebusi believe that all adult deaths from sickness, accident, or suicide caused
by either male assault sorcerers (ogowili) or by male or female parcel sorcerers
- Murders were very common between the Bedamini raiding and the defenseless
Gebusi villages. The percentage of homicides declined after the pacification of the Bedamini
tribe. The reasons for the decline in murder within the Gebusi was due to the
reluctantly to kill people that would come to the attention of police at the Nomad Station.
Angry relatives of the slain person might call the attention of the police. After Bruce's second visit with the Gebusi, the homicide rate has dropped to zero with the introduction of religions into the Gebusi culture.
- Crimes, which were frowned upon, did not happen often in the Gebusi culture
before the modernization of their culture. Bruce notes that the crime rate had
increased a lot since modernization.
Theft was the most frequently reported offense—almost twice as common as
any other crime. This trend, if not stopped, threatened the continuity of the
schools and operations of the airstrip.
usually done during festivals, rituals and celebrations. Singing is
usually done along with dancing. It involves dialogue, spirit mediums,
participation from listeners and are short and repetitive and nostalgic. (p.g.
- in the Gebusi culture dancing can signify mourning, certain rites of
passage, and celebration. It involves wearing, feathers, leaves and body paint.
During these dances they hop or act as a spirit mediums while interacting with
those that watch. (example on p.g. 74-75 of reading).
the gubusi don't have an elaborate counting system. They only use
three numbers, which are: one (hele), two (bena), and two plus one (bene bwar
hele bwar). Anything greater than these is called many (bihina). (p.g. 25 in The
Gebusi reading)
in the Gebusi culture is not only meant to be eaten but also used to give
as gifts. These gifts are meant to be given to strangers who are peaceful. Food
as gifts are used to build lifelong relationships and also pay tribute or show
appreciation in special ceremonies. (p.g. 12&89)
when hunting and gathering food the women and men work together
and are assigned different tasks. The men spear fish and carry bows and arrows
to use on wild pigs, lizards, possums, cassowary birds or anything else that
moves. The women gather eggs, fresh water prawns and bananas from the
garden. (p.g. 26 in reading)
families maintained and clear individual gardens and
sometimes the entire community will clear a garden if it's large enough. After
the banana suckers and root crop seedlings have been placed in the ground the
men begin the process called falling of the trees. In this process they chop the
trees mid way and then they cut down the biggest tree and let it knock over the
rest onto the garden. While on the ground these trees provide the seedlings are
protected from the blaze of the sun and pelting of the rain. Over time the trees
also fertilize land as it begins to decay. The Gebusi don't labor much in growing
their food. They have such much land they have little need to focus on one push
they just let it lay and regenerate for years before coming back to recut and
replant it. This is known as horticulture. (p.g. 28-29 in reading)
Spirit Mediums
these are selected members of the clan who become hosts for
important spirits during séances. (p.g. 73-74 in reading)
A clan is a permanent social Group whose members pass down
membership through descent from one generation to the next. Members in a
clan do not marry each other because they believe that they share a common
ancestor. all members in the clan call each other brother and sister grandparent
etc... even if in they are merely cousins nieces nephews etc... (p.g. 54-55 in