What is it like for a native people of the rainforest to confront features of a modern world? In 1980-82, the Gebusi of Papua New Guinea held elaborate ritual dances and spirit seances, practiced alternative sexual customs, and endured a very high rate of violence. By 1998, however, most Gebusi had been willingly transformed by Christian conversion, schooling, market activity, disco music, sports leagues, and local government. This book vividly portrays both the traditions and the dramatic changes of Gebusi society and culture. Written especially for students, the account uses personal stories and ethnographic examples to connect developments among Gebusi to topics that are widely considered in anthropology courses, including comparative features of subsistence, kinship, economics, politics, religion, gender, ethnicity, and nationalism.
The author lived among the Gebusi for several years, on two occasions. His account of his experience with these fascinating people aims to illustrate issues and topics prominent in undergraduate anthropology courses; provide a dramatic, personal, and well-written story of cultural transformation; and unfold the relation between so-called traditional customs and so-called modern ones. His goal in publishing the ethnography is "to let the Gebusi come alive to readers, to portray their past and their present, and to connect their dramatic changes with those in my own life and those in contemporary anthropology."