Revaluing and rescaling national and ethnic language booundaries in online discourse

Howard Manns, Simon Musgrave

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter 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. 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. 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, and how one can or should align with the role of “diverse Indonesian”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContact Talk
Subtitle of host publicationThe Discursive Organization of Contact and Boundaries
EditorsZane Goebel, Deborah Cole, Howard Manns
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429427848
ISBN (Print)9781138370746, 9781138370753
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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