Staff profile

Dr Zane Goebel

Associate Professor

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce
Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of Language and Linguistics
Centre for Research on Linguistic Diversity

HU3 213, Melbourne (Bundoora)


BA Hons, Grad Dip, PhD.

Membership of professional associations

American Anthropological Association (Society for Linguistic Anthropology); International Pragmatics Association; Linguistic Ethnography Forum

Area of study

Applied Linguistics
Asian Studies

Brief profile

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 (

At present Zane is working on two projects. The first, an Australia Research Council Discovery Projects looks at how language relates to leadership practices in the Indonesian bureacracy. He has published a number of academic articles on this project and he is currently writing a monograph on this topic. You can look at pre-print copies of his work at: The second project is a large international team project that looks at the relationship of language to societal change in contemporary Indonesia. Zane recently convened a symposium on this topic in June 2015 at the Sociolinguistics of Globalization conference in Hong Kong. You can look at the content of the symposium here: With Debbie Cole and Howie Manns, Zane is currently editing a book of papers from this symposium, some of which are already published as working papers here: Next year Zane will be running a follow up Symposium, details to be announced soon.

Research interests

Asian Cultural Studies

- Mass-mediated semiotic representation; cultural reproduction in complex settings; globalization

Indonesian Languages

- Centralisation; Decentralisation; Commoditisation; Change and social value; nationalism; schooling;

Language and Culture in Society

- Talk-in-interaction; Language ideologies; Narrative; Language socialization

Teaching units

Beginners to advanced levels of Indonesian, Critical Issues in Contemporary Asia, Intercultural Communication

Recent publications


Goebel, Z. 2015a. Language and Superdiversity: Indonesians Knowledging at Home and Abroad. New York: Oxford University Press (Oxford studies in sociolinguistics).

Goebel, Z. 2010a. Language, Migration and Identity: Neighborhood Talk in Indonesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edited books and conference proceedings

Goebel, Z., Purwoko, H., Suharno, J. Suryadi, M. and Al Arief, Y. (eds.) 2014a. Proceedings: International Seminar Language Maintenance and Shift IV (LAMAS IV). Semarang: Masters Program in Linguistics, Diponegoro University in collaboration with Balai Bahasa Provinsi Jawa Tengah.

Amano, M., O’Toole, M., Goebel, Z., Shigemi, S., and Song-Wei (eds.) 2008a. Identity in Text Interpretation and Everyday Life. Nagoya: Nagoya University.

Peer-reviewed book chapters

Goebel, Z. In press-a. Superdiversity from within: The case of ethnicity in Indonesia. In Arnaut, K., Karrebæk, M. S., and Spotti, M. (eds.) Language of the Interstices. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Goebel, Z. 2014b. Understanding shifting languages on Indonesian television: understanding social value in late capitalism. In Goebel, Z., J Herudjati Purwoko, Suharno, M. Suryadi, and Yusuf Al Arief. Proceedings: International Seminar Language Maintenance and Shift IV (LAMAS IV). Semarang: Masters Program in Linguistics, Diponegoro University in collaboration with Balai Bahasa Provinsi Jawa Tengah, pp. 29-42.

Goebel, Z. 2011a. Enregistering Identity in Indonesian Television Serials: A Multimodal Analysis (pp. 95-114). In K. O’Halloran & B. Smith (eds.). Multimodal Studies: Multiple Approaches and Domains. New York: Routledge.

Peer-reviewed articles

Goebel, Z. In press-b. Conviviality and common ground: Indonesians doing togetherness in Japan. Multilingual Margins (Special issue on the importance of unimportant language. Blommaert and Varis eds.).

Goebel, Z. In press-c. Represented speech: Private lives in public talk in the Indonesian bureaucracy. Pragmatics.

Goebel, Z. 2014c. Stigmatising others through neighbourhood talk in Indonesia. Part of a special issue for the open access journal PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies. 11(1): 1-20.

Goebel, Z. 2014d. Doing leadership through signswitching in the Indonesian bureaucracy. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 24/2: 193-215.

Goebel, Z. 2013a. Representations of doing unity in diversity on Indonesian TV. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs (RIMA), 47(1): 89-114.

Goebel, Z. 2013b. Competence to comprehend and Knowledging. (Part of special issue on communicative competence.) Language and Communication, 33/4: 366-375.

Goebel, Z. 2012. Enregisterment, communities, and authenticity: Watching Indonesian teledramas. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 22/2: 1-20.           

Goebel, Z. 2011b. Talking about mediated representations: Exploring ideologies and meanings. Text and Talk: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies, 31/3: 293-314.

Goebel, Z. 2010b. Identity and Social Conduct in a Transient Multilingual Setting. Language in Society, 39/2: 203-240.

Goebel, Z. 2009. Semiosis, interaction and ethnicity in urban Java. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 13/4:499-523.

Goebel, Z. 2008b. Language, class and ethnicity in Indonesia. Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde [Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania], 164/1:69-101.

Goebel, Z. 2008c. Enregistering, authorizing and denaturalizing identity in Indonesia. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 18/1:46-61.

Goebel, Z. 2007a. Enregisterment and appropriation in Javanese-Indonesian bilingual talk. Language in Society, 36/4:511-531.

Working papers

Goebel, Z. 2015b. From neighbourhood talk to talking for the neighbourhood. Tilburg papers in culture studies (Working paper number 134).

Goebel, Z. 2015c. Modelling unitary and fragmented language ideologies on Indonesian television. Tilburg papers in culture studies (Working paper number 135).  

Goebel, Z. 2015d. Believability in interviews. Tilburg papers in culture studies (Working paper number 140).

Goebel, Z. 2013c. The construction of semiotically dense stereotypes in Indonesian soaps. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 82).

Goebel, Z.  and Herriman, N. 2013d. The intimacy of persecution: gossip, stereotype, and violence. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 79).

Goebel, Z. 2013e. Represented speech: Private lives in public talk in the Indonesian bureaucracy. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 78).

Goebel, Z. 2013f. Doing leadership through signswitching in the Indonesian bureaucracy. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 72).

Goebel, Z. 2013g. The idea of ethnicity in Indonesia. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 71).

Goebel, Z. 2013h. Indonesians doing togetherness in Japan. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (Working Paper Number 67).

Book reviews

Goebel, Z. 2014e. Sociolinguistica 28. Invited review of Jan Blommaert’s 2013 “Ethnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes: chronicles of complexity”. Brsitol: Multilingual Matters.

Public commentaries

Goebel, Z. 2015e. Indonesia and Australia? You’d better watch your language. The Conversation. Published online on 27 February.

Research networks

Margins, hubs and peripheries in a decentralizing Indonesia

Southern Multilingualisms and Diversities Consortium

Babylon, Center for the Study of Superdiversity 

Leverhulme Research Network "Shifting sociolinguistic realities of the nation of East Timor and its diasporas"

Older publications

Goebel, Z. 2005. An ethnographic study of code choice in two neighbourhoods of Indonesia. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 25/1:85-107.

Goebel, Z. 2004. Language, sex, and politeness in inter-ethnic interactions in Semarang. Renai: Jurnal Politik Lokal dan Sosial Humaniora [Renai: Journal of Local Politics and Social Humanism], 4/2:64-91.

Black, P. and Goebel, Z. 2004. Nobody’s a native speaker of everything. Kajian Sastra: Jurnal Bidang Kebahasaan, Kesusastraan dan Kebudayaan [Kajian Sastra: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture] 28/1:1-12.

Goebel, Z. 2003. Learning to be polite in face-to-face inter-ethnic interactions in two multilingual communities of urban Semarang (pp. 231-281). In Sudaryono (ed.) Sang Pambayun, The Steel Magnolia as a Frontierswoman: Kumpulan Karya Ilmiah Para Pakar dalam Seminar Internasional Budaya, Bahasa dan Sastra [Sang Pambayun, The Steel Magnolia as a Frontierswoman: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Culture, Language and Literature]. Semarang: Diponegoro University Press.

Goebel, Z. and Black, P. 2003. Language variation in Indonesia: A learner-centred multimedia exploration of the functions of Indonesian vis-à-vis regional languages (pp. 212-231). In Sudaryono (ed.), Sang Motivator yang Sejati: Kumpulan Karangan Persembahan untuk Professor Drs. Sudjati. [A True and Consistent Motivator: Essays in Honour of Professor Drs. Sudjati]. Semarang: Diponegoro University Press.

Goebel, Z. 2002a. Code choice in inter-ethnic interactions in two urban neighbourhoods of Indonesia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 158:69-87. [SJR Factor = 0,49].

Goebel, Z. 2002b. When do Indonesians speak Indonesian? Some evidence from inter-ethnic and foreigner-Indonesian interactions and its pedagogic implications. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 23/6:479-489. [Impact factor = 0.6].

Black, P. and Goebel, Z. 2002. Multiliteracies and the teaching of Indonesian. Babel, 37/1:22-26, 38.

Goebel, Z. and Black, P. 2001. Teaching Language Variety. In Lian, A., Dolan, D. & Legg, M. (eds.) proceedings of the congress of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia, Asia-Pacific Applied Linguistics: The Next 25 Years. Canberra. Electronic document formerly available at:

Research projects

Inside the Indonesian bureaucracy: A sociolinguistic study of the role of talk in the doing of bureaucratic work. ARC Discovery Project 2013-2015 (DP130102121).