Penn Anthropology Colloquium: Zane Goebel, 'Leadership Talk and Language Alternation in the Indonesian Bureaucracy' (12/4/2013)

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In recent years the study of the relationship between talk and the doing of leadership has gained increasing attention from linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists. Even so, as with much research on organization talk, these studies focus on the micro analysis of situated talk in monolingual, typically ‘English’ speaking settings. In this paper I start to add to this literature by looking at how a boss moves between Indonesian and Javanese to do leadership. My empirical focus will be recordings of meetings made during five months of fieldwork in a government bureau in Semarang in the 2003-2004. I show that while Indonesian is used to do much transactional work (e.g. opening meetings, allocating turns), Javanese does both transactional and relational work (e.g. building and maintaining positive working relationships), often in ways that differ to earlier accounts of Javanese usage. In interpreting this usage I suggest that the use of Javanese fragments – along with other leadership practices – help build debts that need to be repaid, typically by the carrying out of directives and the smooth and effective operation of this bureau.