Garnasih Aseanti DHARMAPUTRA (Santi)

PhD candidate
Supervisor: Dr. Dwi Noverini Djenar
Associate Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Kenneth Cruikshank

Language policy, ideology and identity: a study of Indonesian parents and their choice of language in the home
A growing number of parents in Indonesia speak English to their children in the home. These parents are predominantly from urban areas, particularly the capital Jakarta. To these parents, being global means having a better command of English. As a result of this practice, there are increasing numbers of Indonesian children in Jakarta who speak, read and write more fluently in English than Indonesian. My research examines the influence of language policy during the New Order regime towards the language attitudes of these parents. I focus on parents who grew up between 1960s and 1980s as this is the period in which the promotion of Indonesian by the New Order and the ideology associated with it was the most aggressive. Studying their attitudes toward Indonesian language would therefore afford an insight into how entrenched that ideology is andhow it influences their decision in choosing the language to speak with their children. Using a combined qualitative and quantitative methodology in its data collection, and drawing on theories on language attitudes, language and identity, language as cultural capital, and nationalism, the study will explain the reasons why parents in urban Indonesia use English within the family setting even though it is not their native language and these children are already attending English speaking schools.

About the student

Santi earned her Legal Law Master degree from the University of Amsterdam (1999) through a Dutch government scholarship, and Bachelor of Laws from Trisakti University, Jakarta (1997). She worked as a corporate lawyer in Jakarta and Amsterdam, before leaving her legal career behind to trail her husband to the USA, Germany and Australia. While raising her two trilingual children, she became independent researcher and writer on topics surrounding multilingual parenting, specifically on raising children in the mother tongue. This enriching experience leads her to include sociolinguistics as her research focus. Santi grew up in Indonesia, Syria and The Netherlands.

Conference presentations

  • Dharmaputra, S. 2013. Language choice, the ideology of nation building and identity: A study of the use of English by Indonesian parents. Australian Anthropological Society Annual Conference, Australian National University, 6-8 November.
  • Dharmaputra, S. 2013. Language policy and identity: Language education at national schools and private English speaking schools in Indonesia. Higher Degree Research Conference on Social Justice, University of Sydney, 27 November.