News and events

A valuable paradox: Indonesian as an un-native language

Public lecture by Professor Joseph Errington (Yale University), La Trobe University, 15 March 2017

In 2008 Goenawan Moehamad celebrated the “very valuable paradox” (paradoks yang sangat berharga) of a language that has come over three generations to be known by almost all of Indonesia’s 250 million people.  Drawing on sociolinguistic research, I explore different versions of this paradox as it has developed in two towns, Kupang and Pontianak.   To compare these very different urban scenes it helps first to consider more generally Indonesian’s uniqueness among the world’s national languages.  This provides a way to understand how its diversity of forms and values can be traced to its enabling absence of native speakers.

Conceptualizing Rapport Symposium, 17-20 July 2016

In July 2016 we convened our second meeting where we intensively discussed and debated the commonly used folk notion of rapport and its relationship to language at an international symposium convened at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

We (Goebel and Agha) are in the process of putting together two edited volumes from this symposium. Abstracts of the papers can be found on the Program and abstracts page.

The selection of photos show some of the presenters and audience from the symposium.


Religion, language and piety: the case of Arabic names in Java

Public lecture by Professor Joel Kuipers (George Washington University), La Trobe University, 11 May 2016

Most approaches to the understanding of the resurgence of Islamic piety attempt to either interrogate its underlying cultural logic, or carry out in broad empirical transregional surveys and self-reports. Both approaches have limitations. In his lecture Professor Kuipers investigates the striking rise of the use of Arabic names in the island of Java as a way of ethnographically bridging the gap between comparative surveys and in-depth interviews. The rise of Arabic names in Java does not signal the "collapse" of the abangan syncretic traditions, so much as a repositioning of the way in which they are expressed. Exuberantly hybridized names are increasingly popular, recalling the synthetic and creative traditions of sacred speech and amalgamated identity for which Indonesia is justly renowned.

Listen to the full recording of Professor Kuiper’s talk.

Margins, Hubs, and Peripheries in a Decentralizing Indonesia

Symposium: Sociolinguistics of Globalization conference, Hong Kong, 3 - 6 June 2015.

In June 2015 we convened our first meeting, the "Margins, Hubs, and Peripheries in a Decentralizing Indonesia" symposium at the Sociolinguistics of Globalization conference in Hong Kong.

Working papers from this symposium have now been published at Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies, and Goebel, Manns, and Cole are in the process of editing a book on this symposium. The book, entitled Theorizing semiotic complexity: Contact registers and scalar shifters, engages with global linguistic anthropological theory by offering a number of new concepts around scale and language contact. The group is planning its second meeting in July 2016 at the symposium "Conceptualising Rapport".

Visit the Margins, Hubs and Peripheries in a Decentralizing Indonesia page for more information.

Photos show some of the members of our global research network “Multilingual diversity in a changing Indonesia” at the first meeting convened as a symposium at the Sociolinguistics of Globalization conference at the University of Hong Kong in June 2015.

Photo 1: Some of the members of our global research network “Multilingual diversity in a changing Indonesia” at the first meeting convened as a symposium at the Sociolinguistics of Globalization conference at the University of Hong Kong in June 2015. Back (left to right) Joel Kuipers, Simon Musgrave, Izak Morin, Michael Ewing, Howie Manns, Zane Goebel. Front (left to right) Adam Harr, Meinarni Susilowati, Yacinta Kurniasih, Dwi Novi Djenar, Aurora Donzelli, Debbie Cole, Asif Agha.

Photo 2: (left to right) Meinarni Susilowati, Jan Blommaert, Michael Ewing, Zane Goebel, Novi Djenar.