“I am Not a Puppeteer”: Positioning and Symbolism in the Discourses of Puppetry Students in Indonesia


Author: Susana Ayala (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Speaker: Susana Ayala
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL CALA 2022 General Session


Abstract

During my fieldwork in Yogyakarta, Indonesia between 2012-2013 I interviewed some puppetry art students about what were their motives for choosing that profession, what were their favorite characters and puppeteers and above all, I asked if they wanted to become a puppeteer or if they already considered themselves to be one. In their answers, they frequently point out that this art entails the deepest concepts of being Javanese for example the constant search for wisdom, strength of mind and spirit and the knowledge of what is right in human life, they emphasized that none of them considered themselves puppeteers. In this paper, I analyze how in the same discourse students position themselves as learners of the art of puppetry and at the same time their answers also seek to construct the symbolism and complexity of the art they are learning. On the other hand, when talking about what their favorite stories and characters are, they discursively connote conceptualizations and interpretations of those elements that are relevant to their own social and symbolic experiences as learners. Temple, C. A. & Whrit, L. J. (2015). Discourse in Educational Settings. In Tannen, D.; Hamilton H. E. & Schiffrin, D. (eds.) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, 858-879. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. Gordon, C. (2015). Framing and Positioning. In Tannen, D.; Hamilton H. E. & Schiffrin, D. (eds.) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, 324-345. Malden, Oxford, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.

Keywords: Positioning, Puppetry art, Discourse analysis, Symbolism