How I Learned Batak: Studying the Angkola Batak Language in 1970s New Order Indonesia
Anthropologists' efforts to learn an ethnic minority language of Indonesia in the field can be far from simple in both political and personal terms. This article details Rodgers' 1974-1977 experiences taking intensive Batak lessons from a strong-willed, old-style, Dutch-trained Sipirok retired schoolteacher named G.W. Siregar. He and fellow South Tapanuli retirees constructed the Angkola Batak language, Angkola culture, and anthropology itself in these lessons, fashioning their visiting American student into line with their own vision of proper scholarship. G.W. Siregar's skepticism about the New Order regime's centrist, state-focussed language ideologies regarding the Batak languages shone through these subtle lessons, described in detail here.
Volume & Issue:
Page range: 1-32
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program