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Simon Musgrave presents "On the Internet, no-one knows you’re from Suroboyo: Ethnic identity from the digital margins to the mainstream core", 22 May, 2015

Australian National University

Date: 22 May 2015
When: 15:30 to 17:00, Friday, 22 May, 2015
Seminar Room B (Arndt Room), HC Coombs Building (9), Fellows Road, Australian National University
This paper examines the evolving nature of language and identity in post-Reform Indonesia by investigating the use of language variation to instigate and resolve ethnic-national tensions in online forums. We show how language variation emerges against the backdrop of the semiotic registers already established in Indonesia by examining a discussion of ethnicity begun on Twitter and continued in the online forum Kaskus. These discussions often entail the strategic elevation of the ethnic self and the strategic denigration of the ethnic other and we illustrate how language variation is implicated in either strategy. Language, of course, is not ideologically neutral and while Kaskus may appear to be a topsy-turvy sociolinguistic hub, Standard Indonesian continues to voice ‘authority’ thus maintaining its New Order role as a unifying force. However, this authority is undermined by the informal and casual nature of the semiotic register associated with Kaskus as well as the often tongue-in-cheek use of ethnic languages which invokes linguistic peripheries within this space. We conclude that the internet provides yet one more periphery through which New Order ideologies of language become ‘re-imagined’ and ‘de-naturalized’ in the post-Reform era (see Goebel 2008). Thus, through the internet, the local, ethnic self may explore and resolve tensions around what it means to be a member of the wider, Indonesian community.
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