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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The dispersal of Austronesian-speaking farmer-voyagers from Taiwan into Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) and out into the Pacific is one of the great metanarratives of global history. In this chapter, the major lines of multidisciplinary evidence for the “Austronesian” dispersal into ISEA are critically evaluated. Several key points emerge: usage of the term “Austronesian” should be restricted to languages and not be applied to genetic attributes or material culture; the dispersals of genes and Austronesian languages do not correspond within ISEA; and, there is limited evidence for the dispersal of farming across ISEA together with the spread of Austronesian languages from Taiwan. An alternative, multidirectional, distance-decay scenario is advanced for the spread of domesticated animals and plants, cultivation practices, and other material cultural items, in which the inhabitants of ISEA are active participants in the creation of their own history.

Keywords: Austronesian, Island Southeast Asia, farming-language dispersal, plant domestication, animal domestication, distance-decay

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