The Gebusi by Bruce Knauft Essay.
In modern societies, problem solving is given great attention, vigor and innovation. In Gebusi society, people frequently enjoyed a sleep of nine hours at night. They were never in much of a rush to do anything. They had no pressure of anything. They off course had tasks to do, had to acquire food, had to manage domestic issues but, according to Knauft, “effort ebbs and flows not so much as a struggle against nature but in relaxed harmony with the environment.
” relaxation is also a variation to the environment.
Thus, as Knauft puts it as: “laziness” has become “a survival strategy. ” (Knauft, 58) This may be right that it depends very much on what we choose to call civilization. In Gebusi there existed many regulations; but among the Gebusi, there are abundant examples in which apparently vital regulations are dishonored; they had explanations that effectively reduced the gap between general rules and social realities. Above all, according to Knauft, there is a culture of humor and the repression that we consider is crucial to sophisticated life is absolutely absent.
Generally modern societies, particularly in North America, distress over such suspected evils as “same-sex marriage,” the Gebusi appeared comfortable with sexual assortment including ritual homosexuality. Furthermore, while contemporary cultures insist on setting down regulations with legalistic exactness in criminal codes, agreements of licensing etc. , the Gebusi did things in a different way. They also had rules and regulations but these rules were rarely uttered with the sort of accuracy that we favor. The rules were somewhat less obligatory. They had there own ways of leading there lives, and had there own modern ways.
The Common customs which the entire area included were traditional dwelling in a shared longhouse, where men and women slept separately, men used to sleep in company of men and women in women’s company. There used to be social organization based on small detached patriclans, adult males co resided through a combination of agnatic, affinal, and matrilateral ties; spirit mediumship used to happen during the night where spirit seances focused on sickness and curing, sorcery or witchcraft. There used to be Collective subsistence, and clash; a single-stage commencement or celebratory transformation into adult manhood.
All-night dance and songfest rituals between longhouses were arranged, during which a magnificently costumed dancer accompanied melancholic songs. Adjacent ethnic groups also looted each other; it was also something really common. Gebusi tribe had its own significant rituals, and there own customs, which they had adopted very well and were fully indulged in the ways they spent their lives, Gebusi was different, Gebusi traditions were unusual though it was not a truly wealthy society, but the people were fully contented with their lives and had invented extra-ordinarily astonishing customs.
RELIGION: The Gebusi space is occupied by many spirits, including fish, birds, and other animals. Of meticulous significance are the true spirit people, who help the Gebusi in judging the causes of sickness, the identity of wizard, the place of lost pigs, and the success of predictable hunting voyage. Though spirits may cause sickness, but practically all human deaths are supposed to be caused by other living Gebusi through either casting of magic spells or murder. Magic is also seen as a prejudice cause of sudden accidental death and suicide.
Following spiritual condemnation, the suspects of sorcery are enjoined to execute corpse fortune telling, in a largely vain attempt to ascertain their blamelessness. Spirit people are contacted by male spirit during the night spirit meeting held on once in every eleven days. The spirit medium (to be precise a male) sits quietly in an unlit longhouse and brings about a trance. His own spirit leaves and beautiful spirit women replaces him the woman chants in high falsetto voices. GENDER
Gebusi women have the right to choose their husband to be and they have a rejection power in marriage, conversely, women could also perform such exchange as the “sister-exchange. ” A “sister-exchange” is defined as ‘if a young woman likes her own brother and his new wife-not to mention the new wife’s brother, her own potential spouse-then she can go for the matrimonial exchange in which the husbands can be exchanged’. (Knauft, 165). So women had a significant identity and value. However homosexuality was a major problem and men preferred to have relations with men.
It was not considered very well if man loved a woman. There was no central political structure and no fight for power among the stronger men, but yes, in Gebusi violence was a common problem, their homicidal ways cannot be illustrated by common theories of violence applied to societies such as ours that have developed political and economic systems. So Gebusi men more in to homosexuality and violence Gebusi lifestyle changed dramatically between Dr. Knauft s first and second trip to Papua New Guinea
The Gebusi tribe is a distinctive tribe; on the other hand, their customs have very much changed in the last couple centuries, due to colonization. When Knauft first lived in the middle of the Gebusi in the early 1980s, he witnessed a group of people that did not possess material goods in any huge supply; yet, they considered themselves wealthy. They established a “celebration of life, spirituality and sexuality. ” For Knauft, they exhibited an extremely triumphant set of communal preparations. They were also disappearing instances of a way of life that would soon expire.
The times were changing people were being let in on the tail end of the interruption of anthropology into isolated and so-called prehistoric societies. Along with anthropologists come missionaries, traders, developers, government agents and police or military forces. It is amazing to realize that how much and how quickly the people of Gebusi have changed and as the result; the whole area has changed. They had moved away from a society based kinship, common values of community and tradition to a new and far less compassionate intermediary culture that imitated the modern.
A deep observation in Gebusi social associations could be had by paying attention to how games were played by them. Before getting modernized they used to play until the score was tied or until the track was lost by everybody. Knauft recalled; now they “play to win. ” More theoretically, the idea of time had been distorted. The time had shifted from a circle of recurrence to an arrow of predictable evolution. Assisting in the change of principles was new establishment that had suggested themselves into the society.
Money was now obtainable. The Gebusi culture was very difficult to understand in the 80’s but now if anybody visits Gebusi, and compares it with that time or tries to have an apprehension of the advancements, he will loose his senses. The sounds of the forest have now demolished by disco music from a boom box. The Gebusi people now desire contemporary goods and, once self-assured and self-governing. Gebusi offer a charming model of how people become then again modern.
But how does their occurrence resemble or different to that of other cultures and societies that was the question which was in the mind of Knauft. Knauft had become increasingly interested in this question returning to Emory. While many decide to present themselves to tradition they may not locally control i. e. church, school, market, and so on, they do so with confusion. In fact sometimes they refuse to accept these influences, very strongly. Gebusi children now are obedient pupils at the community school they study seven hours a day, five days a week.
Women now haul their products for hoped-for sale at the market on Tuesdays and Fridays. Women are now the stall holders and they sell goods in the markets. Now on the weekends “video nights,” “discos,” “parties,” and numerous games of refereed soccer and rugby against teams of previous enemies’ on the ball field adjacent to the government station are now played. The Gebusi are a tiny language group of only 615 people; they have small political or economic influence even at the local administration services eight ethnic groups adding up to nine thousand people.
If Gebusi have knowingly exchanged their past for new understanding of their future, the speed and extent of this change is bestowed by special qualities of their cultural and political background. The coming across of Gebusi with modern institutions and their experience tells us more about the interface between local peoples and worldwide forces. But the Gebusi also respond vigorously to advancements, creating new ways of partying, performance, and music that bond traditional practices with Western ones.
Knauft says “”it was their own choice to exchange their past for an alternatively modern future” (p. 19). CHANGE OF CLOTHING WITHIN GEBUSI CULTURE: When Knauft returned in 1998; The Gebusi wore Western clothing and women wore shirts. The Gebusi people wanted to be modern in their own local ways and when time gave them the opportunity to be modernized; they availed it with open hands, thus with the advancements in the society, they have adopted every custom that declares a society to be modern.
Now in Gebusi nobody will be found wearing tribal clothes, as now the people of Gebusi are fully dressed; they wear shirts and the women now wear western clothes. Gebusi is bright and significant examples that how societies evolve in order to attain a good and advanced future. SEXUALITY: With the turn down of conventional spirit medium ship and seances, there was little way Gebusi could interact with their spirits. With surprising speediness, Gebusi cosmology has been replaced by a Christian cosmos of good and evil, sanctity and sin, and heaven and hell.
Teenagers and young Gebusi men in the society were no longer initiated. Now Gebusi does not seem to be on anyone’s chart of a moral war; changes in male sexuality seem to have occurred to a consequential degree as part of larger desires to become locally modern in all different ways. Though Gebusi started to participate actively in modern institutions, such as the church, school, sports league, and market, in residential terms they remained slightly independent in their own society.
They were located at the corner of the deep jungle, where they returned at will for foraging and other subsistence activities and to visit more remote Gebusi settlements. In their own villages, Gebusi now live in individual or complete family houses rather than gathering in a central longhouse; men now tend to meet in culture smaller and less enthusiastic groups than before. In concert with this-and in the absence of spirit seances and ritual dances-the male culture of companionship, sexual teasing, and energetic joking has declined considerably.
Now the question is that how the homosexuality was affected by these changes. This idea can be judged by Knauft’s experience of meeting Waybay, a local boy and thus he found out more about homosexuality in Gebusi that it had reduced. Wayabay’ father and mother were dead, along with many of their native practices. He was a large and strong young man whose age was in mid twenties and was unmarried; Wayabay had missed the last male initiation and had not participated in associated practices of insemination or age. And through him he found out that he was not a homosexual.
Gebusi tribe has remarkably evolved in each and every factor and so are the conditions of homosexuality. The sexual practices in Gebusi have improved a lot. It has largely disappeared in Gebusi. It has become vestigial, not only as practice and belief among people of Gebusi but also as a definitive optic in Western research. In order to reify ritualized homosexuality the logical deconstruction and recreation of concepts will continue, particularly in the social sciences, there is a huge need of critically examining the basis of this dialectic in sexual research, in sexual practice, and in the discourse of sexual rights-remains.
Homosexuality has become vestigial. And now it is no longer a custom. In older time Gebusi practiced homosexuality ritually but now this condition also has improved and Gebusi people are now more in to normal practices.
Reference Bruce Knauft. ‘The Gebusi: A Rain forest world before and after’. McGraw-Hill Companies (1998) Pg 19, 58 and 165.