Stigmatising Others Through Neighbourhood Talk in Indonesia

Zane Goebel


This paper looks at how a person is categorised in neighbourhood talk as ‘just like all other deviant Chinese’ over the course of two neighbourhood meetings that occurred a time when state authorized anti-Chinese discourses were increasingly common in Indonesia. In particular, I use linguistic anthropology to draw out relationships between everyday neighbourhood talk and more widely circulating stereotypes of Chineseness. This neighbourhood talk presents itself in genres that closely resemble storytelling and gossip and I point out that the nature of these genres make it difficult to pin responsibility for this talk on any neighbour in particular. Just as importantly, in the case presented here, stigmatization seems to be an unintended outcome of the intersection of talk across a number of temporally and spatially separated communicative events and social, economic, and political events at both the local and national levels.

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