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Reconnecting Genes, Languages and Material Culture in Island Southeast Asia: Aphorisms on Geography and History

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image of Language Dynamics and Change

The Holocene history of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) is dominated by the ‘Out-of-Taiwan’ hypothesis and derivatives, such as the spread of the Island Southeast Asian Neolithic. According to these ideas, approximately 4500–4000 years ago, farmer-voyagers from Taiwan migrated southward into ISEA to subsequently acculturate, assimilate or displace pre-existing inhabitants. These processes are considered to have produced a consilience between human genetics, Austronesian languages and the archaeological record within ISEA, although recurrent critiques have questioned these putative correspondences. These critiques have proposed that each line of evidence should be independently evaluated and considered, rather than assumed to correspond. In this paper, the authors advocate a fuller engagement with and a deeper understanding of the spatial and temporal processes that structure archaeological, genetic and linguistic distributions within Island Southeast Asia. Geography and history are often marginalized in discussions of the Holocene history of ISEA, yet both are fundamental to the interpretation and reconciliation of multidisciplinary data within the region. These themes are discussed using aphorisms that are designed to be illustrative, namely to promote thought and reflection, rather than to be comprehensive.

Affiliations: 1: Latrobe University ; 2: Australian National University


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