AMHERST, Ma. – Deborah Gewertz, the former G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology, was stripped of her tenured position in the Amherst College anthropology department Thursday after a departmental audit revealed Gewertz had written extensively on a wholly fabricated indigenous culture since 1997.
According to a report released Wednesday by the college, Gewertz has published numerous papers and written an unreleased book manuscript about the society and traditions of Papua New Guinea’s non-existent “Gambooli Tribe.” Further investigation into the matter revealed that all citations in the papers and manuscript, “Gamboling with the Gambooli,” were either circular references to her own works or credits to academics of her own invention.
“We first became suspicious when we saw the name ‘Pat McGroin, Ph.D’ several times in her bibliographies,” Amherst Dean of the Faculty Gregory S. Call explained in the report. The investigation picked up steam after this discovery, with Call noting, “We figured out that the whole ‘Gambooli’ thing was just a crock of [expletive]. I mean, she must have known we’d figure out that there’s no tribe in New Guinea that ‘worships bugs’ and is ‘completely obsessed with thrash metal and skate culture.’”
As a part of the investigation, the college confiscated several pieces of “Gambooli ceremonial garb,” including a headdress crafted from construction paper and glitter glue and a purportedly sacred Metallica sweatshirt.