Ethnographic Reflection

Topics: Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Anthropology Pages: 4 (1281 words) Published: March 13, 2011
Raybeck describes several adventures and misadventures involving field research in his account of the year and a half he spent in Kelantan. He also discusses the understanding, humility and scars that these experiences may leave behind. Raybeck provides in-depth descriptions of Kelantanese society and culture. He addresses topics such as political structures, the status of women, kinship, linguistics, and economics. Additionally, he demonstrates for us how challenging yet rewarding anthropological fieldwork can be, and we see how he builds rapport in a research setting in order to ensure that the information he acquires is reliable. Two of the main techniques used by Raybeck were learning the language, and interviewing key informants. Prior to departing for the Malay Peninsula, Raybeck was able to spend a semester in London studying some Kelantanese dialect at the School of Oriental and African studies. Raybeck relies primarily on anthropological fieldwork to compose his ethnography. His wife accompanied him, but he seems to have worked alone for the most part. His project proposed the use if a psycholinguistic device (the semantic differential), to study traditional values in Kelantan village life. He hoped that the methodology would be a blend of experimental/ empirical and interpretive/ subjective. He hoped that the two approaches would compliment and strengthen one another, providing him more reliable insights into Kelantanese culture. I believe that Raybeck adopted both, the scientific and humanistic approaches in his study of Kelantan society. While constantly treating information as a test of explanations of cultural phenomena in terms of general principles, Raybeck also constantly tries to understand and engage with the Kelantanese way of life. For example, he explains that him and his wife gave up pork because they realized that they would perhaps not be so welcomed by the Kelantanese had they not. He goes on to explain that eating off a plate that has...
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