Current Institutional Affiliation
"Word on the Street" Columnist, Wall Street Journal

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1999
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Being Sudanese, Speaking Sudanese: The Sociopolitics of Linguistics Differentiation in the Highlands of West Java

This project seeks to investigate ideologies of linguistic differentiation among the Sundanese of West Java, the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. With Indonesia's nation-statist project undergoing a profound reexamination since the end of President Soeharto' s three decades of rule, my research on the sociopolitics of Sundanese language use comes at a time when many Sundanese are rekindling debates on their vernacular language and its importance to regional and national spheres. Through a fine-grained analysis of linguistic interaction in two fieldsites in the Priangan and Karawang regions, I hope to determine how Sundanese speakers position themselves and others by drawing internal and external linguistic boundaries. Such boundary-making may reveal competing conceptualizations of Sundanese-ness - and Indonesian-ness - currently at play throughout West Java, opposing "traditional" models of normative refinement with "modem" egalitarian ideals.