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Anth1000W: How Kelantanese People Practice Privacy (Essay Sample)


-For your second paper, you will read an ethnography by Douglas Raybeck, entitled “Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and the Errant Anthropologist.”
-Your job is to select one of the themes from the above list (I choose privacy as the theme of paper) as the focus of your second paper. You will examine the practices that relate to the theme you select by discussing how they are conducted by the Kelantanese people, how the practices are interpreted by anthropologists, and finally by comparing them to another culture of your choice.
- For Paper 2, you must include AT LEAST six references:
1) Your textbook (MANDATORY)
2) The ethnography (MANDATORY)
3) AT LEAST two sources on the nature and significance of your theme (e.g. marriage, kinship patterns, residence patterns)
4) AT LEAST two sources on your comparative culture/people. They must either focus on the importance of your theme to this culture, or must at least contain some information regarding your theme.


The Kelantanese people are found on the East Coast of Malaysia and have distinct features that differentiate them from the other ethnic groups found on the Malaysian peninsular. The Kelantanese people also have their own dialect, vocabulary and grammar that differ from the standard Malay which makes it difficult for the other ethnic groups to understand them. Nonetheless, one major aspect that makes the Kelantanese people unique is how they perceive privacy in their culture. The essay will critically show how Kelantanese people practice privacy by identifying how anthropologists interpret these practices and comparing these characteristics and practices with the Japanese people and culture.
In contrast to many western cultures, the Kelantanese people don't believe and advocate for privacy. They don't have values that mention it and even their architecture doesn't promote it. (Raybeck 37) Their houses are so open that people outside can clearly see what is going on inside. This fact was evident when anthropologist Douglas Raybeck first settled among the Kelantan people to study their cultures. He shares “people surrounded the house to watch us unpack. Little children ran through the house, checking our belongings and reporting back to their better-mannered parents” (Raybeck 67). The statement indicates that the Kelantanese people are very suspicious of strangers and will do all they can at the first encounter to investigate and find out all they can about their new neighbors. It also shows that they have built their houses with an open plan with barely any doors or windows which indicates that they have nothing to hide from their neighbors
Since they do not have any forms of privacy, the Kelantanese people are friendly unlike many western cultures and people. Raybeck mentions “As we passed houses, we were often invited for coffee and conversation” (Raybeck 79). They relate to all people as equals and are always open to guests regardless of the time. They are also very accommodating and willing to help, and this became evident when one of the villagers showed up at the Raybeck's door step ready to show him around on his second day in the village. Their openness and friendly nature shows that the Kelantanese are not private people as they easily allow people to live and work among them.
The Kelantanese custom also advocates for frequent invitation of guests to one's homestead and offering of refreshments and food. As a result, Raybeck and his wife made several sacrifices to be seen more hospital and accommodating like the residents. They stopped consuming alcoholic beverages and pork that were forbidden in the region hence their house was open to all. The welcoming nature of the residents and the sharing of meals at any time further indicate the disregard for privacy by the Kelantanese people.
Complete honesty during their interactions and especially from strangers are advocated by the Kelantanese. They required Raybeck to declare their intentions before interrogating them. Also, they are seen to be more casual compared to westerners when communicating about sensitive matters. It is even common for people to discuss some sensitive issues of others in public setting. Raybeck notes though people would suggest home remedies and show their concerns, not once his discomfort from bouts of dysentery became the source of the village entertainment. Most westerners are never this free and often put their discomforts private. The Kelantanese also share their food in groups at public gatherings such as weddings as opposed to people in the west who serve and eat from their own plates. The Kelantanese are also very sensitive to interpersonal relations and as a result all villagers are schooled on a courtesy code that teaches them on proper behavior, humil...

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