Program and abstracts

Download the Conceptualizing Rapport 2016 program and abstracts [PDF 1.39MB]


Day 1: Sunday 17 July 2016



Zane Goebel- La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia




The ethnolinguistic looker-on: Islam and the ideologies of Osing in urban Banyuwangi,

Bernard Arps- Leiden University, Leiden, South Holland, The Netherlands


Recognitional references and rapport building in the author interview

Dwi Noverini Djenar- University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Establishing Rapport and Speaking English: Finding one’s place when the field is in cultural struggle

Monika Winarnita and Nicholas Herriman- La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Rapport and affinity in observation and interviews

Izak Morin- La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Afternoon Tea


Discussant commentary of papers by Ben Arps, Novi Djenar, Nick Herriman & Monika Winarnita, and Izak Morin

Joe Errington- Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA


General discussion of papers.


Dinner at Thai restaurant (Thai Khon Kaen) at Polaris.

Day 2: Monday 18 July 2016


Keynote- Rapport and the positioning of sociolinguist(ic)s

Ben Rampton- King’s College, London, England


‘Episode hari ini disponsori oleh Nü Green Tea’ [Today’s episode is sponsored by Nü Green Tea]: Rapport and virtuoso humor in group interviews.

Lauren Zentz- University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA


Guided rapport, alignment and having the final word on ‘cool sociability’

Howard Manns- Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Morning Tea


Rapport to fit in – Rapport to stand out: The dynamics of alignment during group interaction

Michael C Ewing- University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Understanding rapport through scalar reflexivity

Zane Goebel- La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Discussant commentary of papers by Lauren Zentz, Howie Manns, Michael Ewing and Zane Goebel

Anna De Fina- Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA




General discussion of papers


Book launch of “Doing research within communities: Connecting practice to theory” edited by Donna Starks and Kerry Taylor-Leech

Zane Goebel- La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Afternoon Tea


Campus Tour


Tram travel to Melbourne to have drinks and dinner at Carmine’s Bistro, 234 Lygon Street, Carlton.

Day 3: Tuesday 19 July 2016


Rudely Speaking: Ethnographic Rapport and the Ordinary Ethics of Host-Guest Interaction in Upland Sulawesi (Indonesia)

Aurora Donzelli- Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, USA


Ethnic identity and regional language: the case of Sundanese in West Java

Mikihiro Moriyama- Nanzan University, Showa-Ku, Nagoya, Japan


Intersection of language, identity and global mining in Routa sub-district, Southeast Sulawesi Indonesia

Asrun Lio- Halu Oleo University, Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia


Morning Tea


Discussant commentary of papers by Aurora Donzelli, Mikihiro Moriyama and Asrun Lio

Julian Millie- Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


General discussion of papers




Tour of La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary


Afternoon Tea- Institute for Advanced Studies


Tram travel to Melbourne centre for drinks and symposium dinner at Shark Fin Inn, 50 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Day 4: Wednesday 20 July 2016


Rapport with God

Joel Kuipers- George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA


Talking About Fieldwork: Rapport and Its Enactment through Time

Rafadi Hakim- University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA


Zooming in and out on an interview to understand non-referentiality and contextualization in performing rapport

Deborah Cole- University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, TX, USA


Sociolinguistic Scale and Rapport

Adam Harr- St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, USA


Morning Tea


Discussant commentary of papers by Joel Kuipers, Rafadi Hakim, Deborah Cole and Adam Harr

Asif Agha- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA


General discussion of papers and commentary




Update on Hong Kong Symposium special issue, discussion of publications plans for Rapport Symposium, including discussion of publisher, format, timeframe for drafts, reviewing arrangements, future plans.


Optional activity: tram to Melbourne, afternoon stroll in Royal Botanical Gardens and dinner at Downstairs Bistro and Lounge, 215-217 Sturt Street, Southbank

Abstracts in chronological order

The ethnolinguistic looker-on: Islam and the ideologies of Osing in urban Banyuwangi

Bernard Arps

Leiden University, Leiden, South Holland, The Netherlands


In this paper I address key language-ideological features underlying the emergence of rapport—sometimes quickly, sometimes gradual, possibly under a persistent shadow of reserve—between myself, a Dutch and non-Muslim researcher of language and performance, and acquaintances in the town of Banyuwangi, East Java. I have visited Banyuwangi since 1983 and lived there in 1989 and 1996–1997, interested in Osing. This chain of Javanese dialects formerly considered by speakers and outsiders alike as a rustic patois is being fashioned into an autonomous language recognized by government and the public as Banyuwangi’s Regional Language. Almost all its speakers are Muslims and Islam is paramount in public life. It is striking, therefore, that Islam is virtually absent from Osing language activism and promotion. I developed friendly relations particularly with three urban families that differ markedly in ethnoreligious background and, concomitantly, repertoire of language varieties. While my interactions with them are in Indonesian and, in different ways, some members of each family are interested in Osing, a Muslim family in the Arab quarter speak distinctly Arabic-flavoured Malay in the home and neighbourhood, a Christian family of Chinese ancestry use the Javano-Malay typical of ethnic Chinese all over Java, and in the home of a working-class Muslim family of which the father is Osing and the mother Madurese the language is East Javanese, a compromise inspired by the wider region’s dominant vernacular. I will argue that the externality of Osing in all three cases is typical of Banyuwangi town. As a consequence the socially established profile of the common urban Osing ‘user’ involves hearing the language being spoken by others rather than speaking it. Also, this typical ‘user’ will normally hear Islamic matters thematized in other language varieties. My own perceived subjectivity corresponds to these aspects of the profile of the typical urban Osing user (who is thus not an Osing speaker). This is a major reason why I was allowed to establish rapport with members of these families.

Recognitional references and rapport building in the author interview

Dwi Noverini Djenar

University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Recent studies on research interview are concerned to move away from the traditional conception of interview as information gathering in which the interviewer has the upper hand while the interviewee merely supplies information, toward considering the interviewer-interviewer relationship in terms of mutual participation in interaction. Interviews successfully conducted as interactional events have been shown to acquire a blended quality that reflects the practices and form of both interview and conversation. Following such a lead, this paper examines interviews with four authors of Indonesian teen fiction, focusing on beginning sequences, to show how the interviewer’s disfluency becomes an opportunity for the interviewee to initiate role-shifts and engage in mutual claim-making about socially known persons. More than simply ‘name-dropping’, mentions of such persons function as “recognitionals” (i.e., person forms that are selected to enable the co-participant to recognise the intended referent), the use of which is aimed at establishing a shared object of attention.

The analysis highlights a key point in the author interview, namely that the author is the expert on the topics of the talk and an active participant who enacts ‘positive face’ by making requests for clarification and offering additional information, and in doing so, complementing the interviewer’s disfluency. Both the authors’ approach-based moves and the interviewer’s disfluency thus become resources in rapport building. Rapport is considered in this study as moment-based. As a “comfortable” situation it may be achieved in one sequence of talk and dissipate in another in light of face threatening acts. Rapport can be said to exist when participants mutually engage in acts of convergent alignment as signaled, for example, by repetition, speech overlap, shared laughter, and the doubling of minimal responses.

Establishing Rapport and Speaking English: Finding one’s place when the field is in cultural struggle.

Dr Monika Winarnita and Dr Nicholas Herriman

La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


In multi-lingual situations, the researcher’s choice of language can strongly influence the relationship created with research participants. Building on the anthropological discussions of how interviews are part of the rapport-building process (Goebel forthcoming; O’Reilly 2009), this paper looks at the implications of using either: English, Indonesian or Cocos Malay in fieldwork interactions between researcher and Cocos Keeling Islands informants. The Malay community on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which recently celebrated 30 years of their ‘Act of Self Determination’ by which they voted to be part of Australia, uses several languages in everyday communication. English is the formal language of bureaucracy, education, employment and governmental service interaction in the health and welfare sector; but is also popular on social media. Indonesian surfaced in popular media consumption and a disputed historical origin. Cocos Malay becomes an ‘indigenous’ language feared to be in danger of being lost due to the valuation of English proficiency in state-society interaction and Indonesian as an ambivalent second language. Informants’ choice of language—and the way they mix language—reveals not only socio-economic-political issues within the community but also the generational literacy gap due to the postcolonial history of the islands. Language and identity are thus closely tied together for this community. Being anthropologists with fluency in English and Indonesian as well as learning Cocos Malay as part of fieldwork, building relationship with informants becomes a ‘trial and error’ situation of when to engage using one of, or how to mix, the three languages. This paper investigates the dimension of language use and choice of use as part of both researchers and informants’ larger agenda to build rapport in an effort to narrate specific discourses surrounding the Cocos Malay Muslim personhood.

Rapport and affinity in observation and interviews

Izak Morin

La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


While Marshall Sahlins (2014 [2013, 2011]) has observed that kinship terms of address are important indicators of a “mutuality of belonging”, his work stops short of providing examples of how this works interactionally or over the period of fieldwork. In this paper I look at this issue of kinship terms and the mutuality of belonging by focusing on how kin terms are used in interactions between my informants and myself at various stages of my ethnographic fieldwork that was carried out from January 2015 to December 2015 in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia. In doing so, I offer the concept of “affinity”, defined as the act of communication used and presumed in the showing of mutuality of belonging through each other’s affectionate forms of address. I embed my data in widely held understandings of two terms, amber and komin,two words from Biak language which are now widely used in Papuan Malay in West Papua to distinguish migrants or foreigners (non-Papuans) from Papuans. I look at how these relationships are established via the use of kin terms such as bapa [father], ibu/mama [mother], kaka [big brother or sister] and ade [small brother or sister]. Someone can change their stance over time from being ‘a stranger’ (amber) to being ‘a relative’ (komin) through relations of reciprocal greeting, frequent meeting, cooperation and cross-marriage. I show that this evolving relationship can also be seen in the talk between researcher and an informant.

Rapport and the positioning of sociolinguist(ic)s

Ben Rampton

King’s College, London, England

‘Rapport’ involves the temporary interactional suspension of stranger-hood and distance, and in traditional ethnography, it has positive value as a fieldwork ideal sketched in advisory rules of thumb, as well as a prerequisite for the validity of research findings (Mead 1939; O’Reilly 2012).  But in reflexive contemporary sociolinguistics, ‘rapport’ looks like a craft term concealing a great deal of ideological work, tricking us into observing contact zones through the linguistics of community (Pratt 1987).  Instead in sociolinguistics, there is a substantial body of work that carefully deconstructs ‘rapport’ in the interview society, analysing the sociolinguistic processes producing it (or not), challenging the ethnocentric prioritisation of rapport in gate-keeping encounters (Gumperz et al 1977; Erickson & Shultz 1982), expanding the critique to ‘synthetic personalisation’ in consumer culture more generally (Fairclough 1996; Cameron 2000).  But can these positions be reconciled by, for example, differentiating referential and interpersonal meaning, activity before and after data-collection, or fieldwork at home and abroad? This paper explores the tensions, drawing on the experience of running interdisciplinary training courses in linguistic ethnography.

‘Episode hari ini disponsori oleh Nü Green Tea’ [Today’s episode is sponsored by Nü Green Tea]: Rapport and virtuoso humor in group interviews.

Lauren Zentz

University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA


Recent writing on the topic of researcher-informant relationships demonstrates researchers’ navigation of strange, awkward, and sometimes dangerous circumstances over time (Hume & Mulcock, 2004; Kelly, 2004; Borneman & Hammoudi, 2009; Stevenson, 2009). These reports are essential in building knowledge about fieldwork experiences as we expand and refine our understanding of our own methodologies and prepare new researchers to enter the field. What this work has not taken into account so far, though, is researchers’ and participants’ interactional development and definition over time of these relatively unnatural relationships. In this paper, I will rely on theories of stance (Jaffe, 2009; Kiesling, 2001), micro-interactional sociolinguistic analysis (M. Goodwin & Alim, 2010), and the interactive socialization of identity and rapport over time and intertextually (Agha, 2007; Wortham, 2005), to demonstrate how my relationships with my informants—undergraduate English majors in Central Java—progressed over the course of our year together. Through series of interactions in and outside of formal research interviews, I and my participants navigated and constructed varying levels and types of relationship including student-teacher, researcher-informant, foreigner-local, language learner-expert, and varying levels of friend or confidante. These relationships were constructed through trans-/polylinguistic interactions (García, 2010; Jørgenson, 2008) as we explained ideas and vocabulary to each other, joked together, addressed each other as insiders and outsiders to Central Javanese context and cultures and to the global English speaking community; and discussed the dynamic nature of language use, learning, and shift locally and in Indonesia more broadly.

Guided rapport, alignment and having the final word on ‘cool sociability’

Howard Manns

Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Research assistants play a critical role as gatekeepers to some communities and for collecting certain kinds of data. For instance, an older, Australian researcher may find it difficult or deem it impractical to collect naturally-occurring conversation from an Indonesian youth community.

In this paper, I examine ten ‘first meetings’ between an Australian researcher, an Indonesian research assistant and ten Indonesian participants. The researcher was exploring how language styles were used to construct an Indonesian youth identity known as gaul, literally ‘sociable’. At the time of the meeting, the research assistant had recruited, recorded and co-transcribed (with the researcher) naturally-occurring conversations of the participants. This meeting served as an exit interview to clarify social data and collect metalinguistic and metapragmatic commentary.

In examining these meetings, I show how the research assistant plays a critical mediating role in negotiating rapport and common ground between the researcher and participants. Drawing on the stance triangle (Du Bois 2007), I highlight how the research assistant plays a powerful but subtle part in facilitating alignment and orienting research and participant to gaul as the stance object. The research assistant often does this through a series of rhetorical moves which, where relevant, enable interview participants to ‘achieve’ their respective roles as ‘researcher’ and ‘study participant’. Yet, other times, the research assistant recognizes the need or the utility of facilitating other participant roles, including ‘cheeky gaul kid’ and ‘clueless foreigner’, in order to collect the most informative data.

I use the research assistant’s rhetorical moves to highlight the relationship between rapport and alignment. As many researchers (e.g. Kiesling 2011; Du Bois 2014) have pointed out by now, alignment does not mean agreement but rather reflects joint attention to, and calibration of, perspectives. With this in mind, I close by highlighting the research assistant as a powerful agent in facilitating rapport and by doing so determining who has the final word on gaul and how.

Rapport to fit in - Rapport to stand out: The dynamics of alignment during group interaction

Michael C Ewing

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


This presentation will examine the language of rapport deployed within four group interviews I organised as part of fieldwork conducted in 2014 to investigate language practices and language ideologies among young people in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Developing insights from Tannen (1990) and Clark et al. (2003), Ädel defines rapport-building language as “types of interactive language whose primary purpose is to increase the rapport – the social glue – between the people communicating. It can be described as a way of promoting the in-group by increasing the cohesion between members.” (Ädel 2011: 2933). By examining the dynamics of these discussion groups – including the fluid movement between question-answer structures and more open peer-to-peer discussion, the use of various rapport strategies and shifts in alignment – I demonstrate how the language of rapport is deployed by participants to (re)construction varied stances and subject positions within the group (see Du Bois and Kärkkäinen 2012).

While incorporating insights from each of the four groups, and from both moderator(s) and student participants, I will focus on the first group I organised and on two participants in particular. This first group included five male and three female students from a private technical university, my key language consult Enung (female, Sundanese Indonesian), who was also these students’ English teacher, and myself (male, Anglo American), whose position was understandable to the participants as an academic and teacher like Enung. In this presentation, I pay close attention to the language of rapport used by the two most prolific contributors to the discussion, Rizal (male, Sundanese Indonesian) and Dewi (female, Sundanese Indonesian). Several rapport strategies are particularly useful for these participants. Similarities and differences can be seen in how they deploy rapport language with their peers and with myself and Enung in our roles as figures of authority in the group:

  • Echoing or dialogic turn construction is a common way of signalling agreement or to use others’ words in the construction of next turns.
  • While the majority of the discussion is in Indonesian, English is used form time to time and can signal an alignment with figures of authority and can also signal complex relationships between peers.
  • Use of vocatives is an extremely common rapport strategy in Indonesian, but is surprisingly rare in the discussion groups. The few examples of vocatives that do occur either signal previously established social hierarchy or mitigate interactionally unusual points in the discussion.
  • Unlike other participants, Dewi and Rizal initiate several question sequences. Dewi frequently engages peers, working to build consensus. Rizal frequently engages with Enung and myself, creating alignment with us in contrast to his peers.
  • While humour occurs regularly in the discussions, Rizal in particular uses humour to explicitly assert subject positions that alternately align with his peers or with Enung and myself.

While rapport language is clearly related to establishing alignment, through a close examination different rapport building practice used by the young Indonesian participants in these discussion groups, I show that such alignments can be used differently by various participants in the production and maintenance of differing and flexible identity positions.

Understanding rapport through scalar reflexivity

Zane Goebel

La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


The concept of rapport has received sustained attention within anthropology and often it has been related to language in one way or another (e.g. the papers in Borneman & Hammoudi, 2009b; Kulick & Willson, 1995; Moerman, 1988; Sluka, 2012), although actual attention to semiotic practices as they unfold from one speech event to the next is a notable gap. Some early reflections on anthropological practice have pointed out that to understand relationships with consultants in the field requires us to understand what has gone on before in a particular field site (Berreman, 2012 [1963]). Others have reflected on how rapport changes over the course of fieldwork (Wagley, 2012 [1960]), and it is now commonplace to reflect on rapport in the field as part of the process of writing an ethnography (e.g. Marcus, 1998; Rosaldo, 1989). In this paper I bring together these different forms of reflexivity. For want of a better descriptor, I refer to this as “scalar reflexivity”. I take as my starting point work on connection, scale, and chronotope (e.g. Blommaert, 2015; Blommaert, Westinen, & Leppänen, 2015; Lempert & Perrino, 2007; Van der Aa & Blommaert, 2015), which requires us to see how emblems of chronotopic formulations from different scales are invoked and converge within a semiotic encounter. I start by drawing on data from a relatively short five month period of fieldwork within one Indonesian government office to illustrate the type of reflexive work required to come to more nuanced understandings of semiotic encounters and their relationship to rapport. In doing so, I point to the different types of data that ended up becoming part of my broader efforts to understand rapport in situated semiotic encounters.

Rudely Speaking

Ethnographic Rapport and the Ordinary Ethics of Host-Guest Interaction in Upland Sulawesi (Indonesia)

Aurora Donzelli

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, USA


This paper analyzes how offers of food and drinks and requests to perform domestic chores are conversationally managed within Toraja domestic spaces. Drawing on my extended participation in the everyday life of a Toraja household, I analyze the linguistic and emotion work underlying commensality practices and domestic labor. I describe how, in rural Toraja, relations of social subordination and reciprocity are mediated through specific exchanges of food and labor, and through stylized speech acts characterized by a prevalence of short commands and abrupt directives. I interpret this “rhetoric of rudeness” as related to Toraja social structures and ordinary ethics. The practice of compensating the extraction of unremunerated labor through “generous free” meals has been long described as deeply ingrained in the “subsistence ethics” of Southeast Asian agrarian societies (Scott 1976). My analysis suggests that this large-scale “moral economy” depends in large part on daily communicative interactions through which food is offered and shared. I interpret the marked use of directives and imperatives that characterize Toraja domestic interactions in connection with a social concern for the explicit expression and recognition of preferences, needs, and desires, which is seen as potentially face-threatening. I also discuss how my gradual, unplanned, and unintentional involvement in the domestic chores of the household where I was hosted entailed a series of misunderstanding, along with an apprenticeship in how to perform requests, make offers, and express preferences in a pragmatically acceptable way. As a result of my unexpected domestic involvement, my rapport with my Toraja interlocutors and the object of my research were transformed. As I gradually transitioned from being a guest of my hosts to being the host of my hosts’ guests, I became aware of how the grammatical encoding of volition plays a key role both in official domains and domestic interactions. I argue that the very engagement with my hosts’ needs and preferences impacted the course of my research and led me to explore the careful conversational negotiations aimed at mitigating the expression of mutual dependence and individual desires.

Ethnic identity and regional language: the case of Sundanese in West Java

Mikihiro Moriyama

Nanzan University, Showa-Ku, Nagoya, Japan


Numbering around 30 million, the inhabitants of West Java have for a long time regarded Sundanese, the regional language of the province of West Java, as the most important representation of their culture. Sundanese people consistently think their first language firmly relates to their identity. A great number of Sundanese language schoolbooks have been published since Dutch colonial times until today. Sundanese literature has survived throughout the last century, with a couple of novels, poems and short stories still produced every year in the 21st century. Sundanese traditional music and pop songs are still popular among the population of West Java. Recent legislative change in post-Suharto administration, especially the practice of regional autonomy, raised the status of Sundanese vis-à-vis the national language. The focus of this paper is on my development of rapport with a Sundanese musician family over the last thirty-five years. The discussion explores the relationship between language and ethnic identity, concentrating on the following issues: how is mutual empathy, trust, emotional attachment, reciprocity and responsibility presented and developed through my exchanges of Sundanese during fieldwork; and what is the relationship between this use of Sundanese and socio-political change that occurred at the local and national level over this period.

Intersection of language, identity and global mining in Routa sub-district, Southeast Sulawesi Indonesia

Asrun Lio

Halu Oleo University, Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia


Routa sub-district is located in a remote area on the border of the three Indonesian provinces of South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi. The natural resources of this region have attracted many from different parts of Sulawesi to seek their fortune there, and more recently the mineral resources have attracted foreign investment. This paper will examine the intersection of language, identity and global mining in Routa sub-district.

The Tolaki, Bugis, Toraja and Bungku living in Routa make it a multicultural and multilingual society. The remoteness of this location has resulted in language contact over four generations of speakers of the four local languages; most people of Routa are at least bilingual, or even multilingual. Both bilingualism and multilingualism have resulted in linguistic behaviour such as code switching and code mixing in their daily communication. This multilingualism is a particular identity marker to help distinguish between established and new migrants in this area.

The data of this paper are part of the field study research data for my PhD thesis which was conducted over a 12-month period, commencing in July 2011 and finishing in June 2012. During that period, I spent most of the time in Routa village, my field site and immersed myself in various local activities there. Part of this immersion required me to work in a number of local languages. In this paper I look at examples of how my shifting to the language of my interlocutors impacted on rapport. I argue that different instances of shifting had different impacts on rapport, especially in the areas of trust, disclosure, and friendship.

Rapport with God

Joel Kuipers

George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA


If rapport is “a relation marked by affinity, intimacy, and empathy” then it would seem to be a foundation of any effective community. However, the Islamic community (umma) in Java differs markedly in its approaches to establishing rapport with God.  While some groups encourage the recitation of Arabic chants to experience oneness with God, others strictly follow formulas, regulate their corporeal movements in prayer, and seek to embody God’s will as a way of cultivating their relationship to Him. Still others have explored different languages entirely – e.g. Indonesian, and Javanese – to cultivate their relationship with God. This paper begins with the exploration of different media as ways of expressing and enacting a relationship with God, and then examines the role of intimacy, empathy and harmony in each of these settings. In the context of what appears to be a dramatic growth of increasingly normative forms of Islam in Indonesia, the diversity of ways of mediating one’s rapport with God is a striking development.

Talking About Fieldwork: Rapport and Its Enactment through Time

Rafadi Hakim

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA


My aim in this paper is to challenge the notion of fieldwork as one that is delineated by formal, institutionally authorized research projects, or by the putative temporal framework of being “away in the field.” I would like to suggest that rapport is interdiscursively constituted through anticipatory and retroactive contemplations of spatiotemporally contextualized and contextualizing interactions. More specifically, researchers’ understanding of utterances as belonging to participants conjoined through specific spatial and temporal frameworks are contingent upon the researchers’ interactions beyond the duration of formal fieldwork. An ethnographer’s knowledge about the translations necessary to convey a knowledge about the field to another institution is an “enactment of expertise” that requires an institutionally authorized subject position (Carr 2010).  By looking at an e-mail exchange in pronominal references I had during my time before graduate school as a development worker based in Jakarta, Indonesia, my understandings of how rapport-building and social distancing are simultaneously negotiated through the same semiotic forms. My understanding of this interaction gradually evolved as I received my training in linguistic anthropology, which obliges meta-theoretical discussions conducted in English. Although ethnographic sensibilities might be projected as essences of a researcher who is always-already an expert, they are in fact dialogically constituted and reconstituted before, during, and after fieldwork (Kondo 1986; Narayan 1993; Kulick and Willson 1995; Seizer 1995).

Zooming in and out on an interview to understand non-referentiality and contextualization in performing rapport

Deborah Cole

University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, TX, USA


One of the goals of this symposium is to conceptualise how rapport, language, and identity emerge in interaction.  This paper contributes to this goal through the analysis of dialog in an interview conducted as part of linguistic anthropological research to highlight what it is the interviewer and interviewee are doing in speech to build rapport on the fly.  The properties of rapport-building that are evidenced in these data include pitching-matching, re-performing the interlocutor’s words and phrases, explicit meta-talk about the context-appropriate identity roles of the participants, and defining and explaining vocabulary items that are not immediately understood by the interlocutor.  Evidence that rapport emerged in this interview is further provided by the wider ethnographic context of the relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee.  The analysis contributes to our understanding of rapport by directing our attention to the micro-level choices that speakers make and from which a communicative relationship that can be categorized as “rapport” emerges.

Sociolinguistic scale and rapport

Adam Harr

St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, USA


Recent scholarship in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology has highlighted the scalar nature of semiotic registers (Agha 2007; Blommaert 2007). Sociolinguistic scale as an analytic concept highlights the fact that human communicative behavior inherently indexes and enacts differential, hierarchically ordered magnitudes of space, time, and sociality (Bakhtin 1986; Hymes 1996; Blommaert 2010; Goebel 2015). This paper considers how referential scale-shifting, particularly “upscaling,” may play a role in ethnographic rapport. Drawing in particular on the author’s experience as an American anthropologist conducting fieldwork in the central highlands of Flores, Indonesia, this paper proposes that rapport is a triadic relation between “self,” “other,” and “world” that emerges through scalar shifts, when interactants make cooperative scale jumps between the particular and the general.


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