Is English a form of imperialism? A study of academic community’s perceptions at Yogyakarta Universities in Indonesia

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The paper highlights Indonesian university stakeholders’ perceptions of English in relation to identity. The questions addressed are whether or not English is viewed as a manifestation of imperialism, and whether or not English is seen as influencing national and religious identities. This is important because earlier research frequently “neglected, dismissed, denigrated, or proscribed” speakers’ viewpoints (Kroskrity, 2004). Also, the context of study is significant since previous studies have found that English is in contest with Islam (Karmani, 2003, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c; Rahman, 2005; Widiyanto, 2005), the religion held by most Indonesians. The data collection was carried out at nine prominent universities in Yogyakarta Indonesia in 2009. Forty-three individual interviewees and 305 questionnaire participants were involved in the study. The interviewees consisted of Rectors, Vice Rectors for Academic Affairs, English Lecturers, Lecturers of subjects other than English, and students. The questionnaires were distributed randomly among students from these nine universities. The participants were found to perceive English positively. They view English as somewhat imposed upon them, yet the positives English clearly offers outweigh the negatives since they expressed a desire to learn and use the language. It was found that the participants continuously negotiate their identity as Indonesians and their desire to communicate in an international language for the sake of advancement, regardless of their beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-27
Number of pages24
JournalAsian Englishes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

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