ASILE conference presentation:
The changing value of the local in everyday public contexts in Indonesia
"In many parts of the world local languages have gained increasing social value vis-à-vis their national language counterparts (Heller, Bell, Daveluy, McLaughlin, & Noel, 2015; Heller & Duchêne, 2012; Kelly-Holmes & Mautner, 2010; Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes, 2013; Pietikäinen, Kelly-Holmes, Jaffe, & Coupland, 2016). A similar situation can be found in Indonesia, although the reasons are sometimes quite different (Goebel, 2015; Goebel, Cole, & Manns, 2016; Goebel, Jukes, & Morin, 2016). This colloquium examines this revaluation process by focusing on specific cases in Indonesia. In the first paper, Goebel looks at the marketization of local languages on television, especially Javanese, Sundanese and Betawi. He starts with the beginnings of this process in the early 1990s when fragments of these local languages were included in some select soap operas (sinetron). He then moves to the late 2000s when local languages had become part of most television genres. Drawing on a linguistic landscapes perspective (Blommaert, 2013; Goebel, Jukes, et al., 2016; Scollon & Scollon, 2003; Stroud & Mpendukana, 2009), Jukes focuses on the case of local endangered languages in Sulawesi, showing how Manado Malay and Tombulu had found their way into official political campaign signage in 2015. Using a similar framework, Morin focuses on signage in West Papua showing how Papuan Malay has become increasingly common in public spaces, including signage, the mass media and the internet. In line with contemporary thinking about mixed language practices (Arnaut, Blommaert, Rampton, & Spotti, 2015; Blackledge & Creese, 2014; Pennycook & Otsuji, 2015), the overall point of these three descriptions of local language practices is that the use of regional languages (bahasa daerah or BD) and Indonesian in everyday contexts is not a binary choice (i.e. bahasa daerah vs bahasa Indonesia). Rather, BD feeds into local varieties of Indonesian/Malay and these fill the space in-between in various ways. We end by asking the question about whether our work has pedagogical implications. For example, our students get taught Indonesian, and sometimes they get some introduction to ‘Colloquial Indonesian’ or ‘Non-Formal Indonesian’ and even some local languages (as found in the work of Ellen Rafferty and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin), but in general we wonder whether it is feasible or desirable to incorporate the insights we offer about mixed language practices into language curriculum.
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Zane is a Linguistic Anthropologist with a long-term interest in Indonesia. Linguistic Anthropology is a multidisciplinary endevour spanning semiotics, social theory, ethnography, ethnomethodology, politics, history, and media studies. “Ethnomethodology” may be the least familiar, but in a nutshell much work in this area takes a close look at the way people talk and use language in everyday conversations. Ethnography helps to understand the relationships between the people talking (e.g. why are they talking, what brought them together, their history).
During his doctoral studies he used this mix of approaches to understand how Indonesians of different ethnic backgrounds use different languages (mainly Javanese and Indonesian) to build and maintain social relations in an urban Indonesian neighbourhood. He has published a specialist book on this with Cambridge University Press.
More recently, Zane has applied this approach along with a dash of political economy as a way of understanding why ethnicity is such an enduring category in Indonesia, how this relates to language, and what a decade of political and fiscal decentralization have done to existing language hierarchies. This work which was supported by a grant from the the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science was published with Oxford University Press.
Dr Zane Goebel,
Department of Languages and Linguistics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences,
College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia