Your task is to answer one of the following essay questions about Knaufts ethnography, The Gebusi: Lives Transformed in a Rainforest World. As well as referring to this book, you must integrate a reference to two other readings and use concepts discussed in lectures.
The objectives of this assignment are:
– to think through anthropology by analyzing a key theme across a whole ethnography,
– to practice writing essays in an anthropological style, by illustrating your arguments with examples of
– to make connections between Knaufts ethnography, the lectures, and other material (readings, films)
in the course,
– to strengthen analytical skills by answering a focused question,
– to improve writing skills at the structural and sentence level.
Top tips for essay-writing (see also the resources in Brightspace, Writing tips folder):
– Address the question. Define terms if need be. Choose a clear structure that will answer all parts of the question.
– Signpost your structure well, so your reader can follow your arguments.
– Illustrate your arguments with examples from the ethnography (either by quoting or paraphrasing,
with page numbers).
– Make connections with other course material by integrating references to two readings and showing
that you can use concepts discussed in lectures.
The essays will be graded on the following criteria. See the rubric on page 3 for further details:
– response to the question and overall evidence of critical thinking,
– essay structure,
– key concepts and argumentation,
– use of examples,
– sentence structure, spelling, and grammar.
SOSA 2012: Thinking through anthropology Fall 2021
Here are the essay questions. Its your choice which one to answer!
1. How does Knaufts time learning from the Gebusi illustrate the various stages, challenges, and dilemmas of doing ethnographic fieldwork? Be sure to discuss the actual work of fieldwork (i.e. data collection methods) and to cover all four of his visits.
Making a living
2. In what ways did the Gebusi economic system change from 1980-82, to 1998, to 2008, to 2013? How does Knauft explain these changes? Are the Gebusi richer or poorer than before? Your answer should refer both to systems of production (subsistence strategies) and to systems of exchange (distribution).
[Hint: wealth is not just about money!]
3. Explain how Gebusi spiritual, ritual, and religious practices (for example, spirit sances, initiation rites, church attendance, etc.) change over the different periods of Knaufts fieldwork. How does Knauft link these changes with the challenges of being modern?
Sexuality, courtship, and marriage
4. How do practices relating to sexuality, courtship, and marriage change across Knaufts different fieldwork visits? What are the implications of the changes for men and for women? What do the practices tell us about human sexuality and relationships more broadly?
The Gebusi and the outside world
5. Although the Gebusi appeared to be a first contact people in 1980, Knauft explains that even then, prior contact with the outside world had already had a certain impact on Gebusi beliefs and behaviours. How did relations with external social forces shape Gebusi society and culture during Knaufts four fieldwork periods (1980-82, 1998, 2008, 2013)? Were these relations beneficial or damaging to the Gebusi, on the whole?
[HINT: External social forces here might include, among other things, the Australian colonial state and Papua New Guinean independent state, churches, other Papua New Guinean peoples, or even anthropologists.]