Scope and Content of Collection
Knauft, Bruce M.
Title: Bruce M. Knauft Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1980-1985
0.60 linear feet
(2 archives boxes)
Abstract: Papers, 1980-1985, of an American anthropologist, consisting largely of carbon copies of anthropological field notes. The
notes were originally taken by Bruce Knauft and his wife Eileen when they lived among the Gebusi people of Papua New Guinea
from 1980-1982. The notes include information on social structure, kinship, and culture, with especial emphasis on spiritual
activities of the Gebusi, including transcriptions of audio recordings made at seances. Much of the information gathered
in these notes was used in writing Knauft's 1985 book GOOD COMPANY AND VIOLENCE: SORCERY AND SOCIAL ACTION IN A LOWLAND NEW
GUINEA SOCIETY. The collection is arranged in two series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE and 2) FIELD NOTES.
University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Collection number: MSS 0031
Language of Material:
Collection materials in English
The Bruce Knauft Papers cannot be used without the permission of Bruce Knauft, Department of Anthropology, Emory University,
Atlanta, Georgia 30322.
Bruce M. Knauft Papers, MSS 0031. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Bruce M. Knauft is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta. Born on January 25, 1954, Knauft
graduated Magna Cum Laude in anthropology from Yale University in 1976. He received his M.A. in anthropology from the University
of Michigan in 1979, and he earned his PhD. in anthropology from Michigan in 1983.
From 1980 to 1982 Knauft and his wife Eileen lived in remote villages of Papua New Guinea's Western Province among the Gebusi
tribe. During this time the Knaufts participated in all activities of tribal life and acquired a working knowledge of the
Gebusi language. Much of the material gathered among the Gebusi was used in writing Knauft's dissertation titled GOOD COMPANY
AND ANGER: THE CULTURE AND SOCIOLOGY OF SORCERY AMONG THE GEBUSI OF THE STRICKLAND PLAIN, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (1983), and his
book GOOD COMPANY AND VIOLENCE: SORCERY AND SOCIAL ACTION IN A LOWLAND NEW GUINEA SOCIETY (Berkeley: University of California
The focus of Knauft's research was directed toword the unusually large rate of homicides within the Gebusi tribe. Also of
interest to him was tribal genealogy and the kinship relationship between the Gebusi and neighboring tribes. Knauft sought
to explain the sharp contrast between the tribe's notions of good fellowship versus their attitudes toword punishment and
homicide. He found that beliefs in witchcraft or sorcery represented a bond between members of the tribe, their friends,
and within family units. Such beliefs, he found, were as important a bond as other aspects of socialization and fraternization.
Bruce Knauft has received many awards and honors, including the C.S. Ford Cross-Cultural Research Prize in 1976 and a Guggenheim
Foundation research grant in 1985. His articles have appeared in numerous scholarly journals.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection consists largely of carbon copies of anthropological field notes, some in manuscript and some in typescript.
Also included is a small folder of correspondence containing letters written by Knauft explaining aspects of his work. The
notes were written by Bruce Knauft and his wife Eileen and are based on their experiences among the Gebusi. Although some
of the materials are dated as late as 1985, the actual field research took place during the years 1980-1982.
The notes reflect the Knaufts' investigations into concepts of social structure among the Gebusi, including ethos, myths,
and beliefs. Also included is information about kinship relationships and interrelationships among several Gebusi villages
and outlying bush hamlets, and Eileen Knauft's notes on temperature, rainfall, food availability, and subsistence.
The main thrust of Bruce Knauft's investigation was directed towards the spirit world of the Gebusi. In this regard he made
extensive studies of 62 seances, seance songs, rituals, and witchcraft. This interest is reflected in the collection by a
group of transcriptions from tape recordings of individual seances.
The materials are arranged in categories as suggested by Knauft himself in a letter to UCSD's Barbara Jones. This letter
can be found in the CORRESPONDENCE (Box 1, Folder 1). With the exception of the Field Report and a folder of miscellaneous
notes, the materials are arranged alphabetically by category. The folder of miscellaneous notes includes several untitled
documents as well as a narrative written in the Gebusi language.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Knauft, Bruce M. -- Archives
Gebusi (Papua New Guinea people)
Ethnology -- Papua New Guinea -- Western Province
Homicide -- Papua New Guinea -- Western Province
Witchcraft -- Papua New Guinea -- Western Province
Cantrell, Eileen M