Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and the Errant Anthropologist: Fieldwork in Malaysia
Douglas Raybeck asserts that there is a solitary dictum, which best characterizes the fieldwork in the things that go in an awry manner. During his time in the US, he gives the accounts he experienced in South East Asia. Thus, he describes numerous adventures and other misadventures that were involved in his fieldwork research process. The author also involves his understanding of bruises and humility that his experiences were left behind. It, therefore, shows that fieldwork is situated; he describes the Kelantanese culture and society in addressing kinship, gender, linguistics, economics, relations and the political structure. Thus, the readers are able to gain the insight of human beings dimensions of the fieldwork in undertaking sense of anthropologists come out to build a good rapport during the research process and how to obtain reliable information in the research process. Since his research was done in Asian, Raybeck asserts that the book exposes the culture for those who want to enjoy the tale of a kindred spirit. Therefore, the book reflects like a novel due to its humor and is very easy to forget that one is learning anthropological concepts on the way.
Raybeck in his research book successfully outlines topics of interest such as the dawn of interest, the arrival of the sunlight, and the search of the sunlight. He asserts this in relation to anthropology. Furthermore, he deals with topics such as the
begging of the tan, intimation of the sunburn in a more detailed manner. The book has numerous topics that base their arguments to fieldwork in anthropology. First, in the dawn of interest, he asserts that anthropology is very interesting as it views the world in all phases. Through fieldwork in anthropology, participants to display unusual facts in the surroundings that we are familiar with. Through anthropology, we learn human behaviors and general beliefs. We limit ourselves to the study of culture and human thoughts. Language is a key factor that anthropologist rely on in studying human behaviors. In this regard, we learn about the history of our environment and aspects related to existence that we have created as human beings.
Through anthropology, we learn about humanity that compares comparatives, which are very vital. In his book, he gives an example of a fish, which never realizes that it is wet because it has no contrast. Raybeck links this to the people who are unfamiliar with patterns of behavior and life and cannot realize nature of customs and patterns. He refers to such people as captives, thus asserts that personal freedom and intellectuals begin with awareness about the possibility of the other relevant alternatives. Through the research, he asserts that people are constrained in viewing the world in a narrower manner, the term he called cultural filters. In addition, people judge the world in respect to the bounds of their beliefs and experiences. Through filters, we assess the situations that we are familiar with. We can only accomplish this through novel association and concepts. The author talks about misinterpretation that people have in relation to those we meet having different cultures. Therefore, we have to endeavor in cultural relativity to assess significance and meanings of cultural elements in any culture. Through exposure like fieldwork, we are trained to reduce cultural filters and strengthen our perceptions. We, therefore, try hard to avoid introducing meanings of others to our ideologies.
Raybeck agrees that there are several methods that are used to understand how human beings vary. He gives an outline that is followed; they range from highly quantified, experimental and structured to subjective apprehension about the real meanings and motives that drive human behavior. Thus, despite the method used in pursuing concerns and questions, anthropologists use fieldwork in their studies. Therefore, fieldwork is the core factor that defines anthropology. The method has some shortcomings but it represents our beliefs on the acquisition of more information. We have a trend of distrusting questionnaires and surveys since people who lack trust, cannot have any truth in their statement. Furthermore, we tend to believe that people are three-dimensional and complex in their behaviors and beliefs thus it should just be observed than studied. More so, the best way of observing human beings and minimising the behavior influence is living with the participants and avoiding too much feasibility and patterns of behaviors and beliefs. Fieldwork involves leaving cultural and related social surroundings and moving away to stay among the participants one wishes to study. Anthropologists conduct fieldwork using participant observation method. That is, must consider the setting and the behavior of other people. In conducting research in another place, is like swimming in a fishpond where you are not sure about your fate. Thus, one is entitled to use a case study to achieve better results.
Therefore, the book is relevant for those who wish to study fieldwork because it has additional information about human aspects. The book gives a detailed coverage on rapport acquisition, finding fieldwork setting and acquisition of relevant and reliable information. The book is thus a set of the standard way of doing a perfect research or fieldwork. This follows the book’s personal experience and a tale about numerous misperceptions and insights in doing fieldwork.
Raybeck, Douglas. Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and the Errant Anthropologist: Fieldwork in Malaysia. New York: Waveland Pr Inc., 1996. Print.