Osing Kids and the banners of Blambangan Ethnolinguistic identity and the regional past as ambient themes in an East Javanese town

Bernard Arps

Abstract


On the basis of the theoretical notions of discursive ambience and ambient
discourse, this article examines the recent history of language and ethnicity in
Banyuwangi in the far east of Java. Over the last three decades (with roots going
back to the 1920s and earlier) a redefinition of the language and culture of the
“autochthonous” inhabitants of Banyuwangi has been occurring. Their status and
constitution have been changing from a variety of Javanese into an autonomous
language and ethnicity, called, after the name given to the language or dialect,
Osing. At the same time, an idyllic and heroic picture of the regional past is
being constructed and maintained. Prominent among the factors and agencies
involved in these two ongoing processes is popular media culture. The regency
of Banyuwangi and especially its capital (also named Banyuwangi) are being
cast – albeit sporadically and incidentally and sometimes controversially – as
an Osing region. At the centre of this historical process, people publicly render
themselves – also sporadically and temporarily – Banyuwanginese by listening
to and especially by singing, in karaoke-style, a genre of pop music with Osing
lyrics and musical characteristics perceived as local.

Keywords


Language, space, and place; discursive ambience, ambient discourse, linguistic landscape, audioscape; popular music; thematics, mediation; regionalism, ethnolinguistic identity, local history, patriotism; Banyuwangi.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17510/wjhi.v11i1.142

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