Foraging-Farming Transitions in Island Southeast Asia

Graeme Barker, Martin B. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The origins of agriculture have been debated by archaeologists for most of the discipline's history, no more so than in Island Southeast Asia. The orthodox view is that Neolithic farmers spread south by sea from mainland China to Taiwan and thence to Island Southeast Asia, taking with them a new material culture and domestic rice and pigs and speaking the precursor of the Austronesian languages that are spoken in the region today. Opponents of this 'farming/language dispersal' theory have proposed models of acculturation, in which foragers acquired new material culture and food resources by trading with farmers. However, new work in archaeology, palaeoecology, palynology and anthropology, especially in Borneo, and in genetics and linguistics for the region as a whole, is suggesting that foraging/farming transitions in Southeast Asia were far more complex than either of these opposing 'grand narratives' of discontinuity (population colonisation) or continuity (acculturation) allows. Through the course of the Early/Mid-Holocene new material culture, technologies and foods were variously taken up, promoted or resisted in order to provision changes in the social and ideological constitution of societies. Whilst new readings of the data for foraging-farming transitions in the region vary, a consensus is emerging that it is more useful to focus on how materials and modes of life were used to underwrite changes in social networks than to seek to explain the archaeological record in terms of migrating farmers or acculturating foragers.

LanguageEnglish
Pages256-280
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Volume20
Issue number2
Early online date6 Oct 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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Southeast Asia
farmer
acculturation
language theory
food
colonization
archaeology
speaking
anthropology
Taiwan
constitution
social network
continuity
agriculture
linguistics
narrative
China
Farmers
Foraging
Farming

Cite this

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Foraging-Farming Transitions in Island Southeast Asia. / Barker, Graeme; Richards, Martin B.

In: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 20, No. 2, 06.2013, p. 256-280.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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