Bruce Knauft’s main goal for The Gebusi was to depict the lives of the Gebusi. In the introduction he stated that his goal is “to let the Gebusi as people come alive to the reader, to portray their past and their present”. He also wanted to document the transition from a traditional culture to a more modern one during his visits. The first half of the book describes the traditional culture of Gebusi life, while the other half of the book describes the transition to modern culture.
He documented the effects brought on to the Gebusi way of life by technological, economic, political, and religious changes. Knauft depicts the Gebusi through an unbiased perspective. He recounts his experiences with the Gebusi as he began to build relationships with them. He categorized certain aspects of their culture together so that readers could easily glide through the concepts. I felt that he did a great job describing the different topics without leaving anything out. His book was really easy to follow. Gebusi Gender Roles and Sexual Practices
Knauft’s documentation on Gebusi gender roles and sexuality in Part One of The Gebusi can be listed into four categories, gender separation, cross-sex relationships, violence and homosexuality. Gender separation can easily be seen through Knauft’s observations. Two main social gatherings for the Gebusi are spirit seances and the good company of kogwayay, however Gebusi women do not participate in these seances or kogwayay. They are excluded and are only exposed to the happenings going on through the shouting and chanting of the men.
These are male dominated gatherings. For these gatherings, women provide for most of it by cooking food but they are not allowed to participate. Cross sexual relationships in the Gebusi differ from Western societies view through a process called preferential sister-exchange. If a woman marries a man then the sister of the woman is expected to marry the man’s brother. This is done so that neither clan gains or loses a woman, and kin can remain in the clan. `The sexual relationship between Gebusi men and women can be seen through spirit seances.
A spirit medium is commonly overtaken by a flirtatious female spirit. Gebusi men yell and shout their sexual desires to the spirit. This shows that Gebusi men desire sexual satisfaction from women. Violence against Gebusi women is not shunned upon. If men feel the need to beat their wife due to the fact that she is being too flirtatious, or for any other reason, they have the right to do so. Gebusi women seem to be okay with this as well. An example of this is a fight between Dugawe and his wife Sialim. Sialim was having an affair with a younger man and Dugawe found out and beat Sialim.
This wasn’t the first time Dugawe has beaten Sialim but this was the first time that Sialim fought back. Because of their fight, Dugawe killed himself. Homosexuality between Gebusi men is very common. Before initiation, young men partake in sexual trysts with other young men. Men of all ages also joke sexually with each other and this is the norm for them. Once men are married and initiated, the sexual contact with other men stops. Although men participate in same-sex encounters, women do not. When Eileen asked if women do have same-sex relationships they responded with disgust.