Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper is concerned with the scale-making effects of linguistic expressions and practices among the Bandanese, an urbanizing ethno-linguistic group of Eastern Indonesia. The Bandanese have a long history of forced displacements, labor migration, and urban settlement, and their traditional and contemporary cultural activities seek to turn separation, loss, and uncertainty into a source of positive social existence. With a focus on such communicative practices as greetings, farewells, biographic narratives, naming practices, and verbal arts, the paper explores the affective stances that participants adopt towards the spatiotemporal gaps of diasporic life. It highlights the dynamic between nostalgia towards the imagined unity of shared, past life in the village and the contemporaneous intimacy and obligation asserted by rural and low-class community members. The alignment of the participants with the heritage language and the national language is central for how they position themselves towards intimacy, mutual obligation, affective sharing, nostalgia, and otherness. The paper argues that the available linguistic resources allow the Bandanese to construct several encompassing frameworks for recognizing and comparing the meaningful qualities of presently relevant events and relationships. Scale-making in this sense is integral to social and cultural transmission because it objectifies the context in which the transmission happens.