Amoeblog

Austronesia - Don't Tease Ya

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 28, 2010 11:25pm | Post a Comment

Until recently, Austronesian wasn't a self-designation. The name comes from Latin auster (south wind) plus Greek nêsos (island). Of course, historically, Inuits and Aztecs never referred to themselves, in collective solidarity, as "Indians" or "Native Americans," but that doesn't mean we can't see similarities now. Having just  just returned from Taiwan, I've observed a growing pride by some Taiwanese Austronesians in their culture. In June, the International Austronesian Conference was held in Taiwan.

It's probably happening amongst other Austronesians, too, and if anyone wants to buy me a plane ticket to see first hand, I will be there as soon as possible.


Covering a vast area of the Earth, the Austronesians never established a large, centralized authority. Unlike the Mongols, Turks, English or Russians, the Austronesians didn't conquer and assert their sovereignty. Rather, they explored and spread, intermingling when they encountered natives, trading with neighbors and populating previously uninhabited islands. What they left is a vast cultural and linguistic umbrella, on par with the Bantu, Indo-Europeans, Afroasiatics and Uralics.


Madagascar's Austronesian President Andry Rajoelina

I first learned of Austronesians when I was channel surfing and randomly came upon an unknown TV program. I watched in fascination as I tried to figure out where the documentary was taking place. It turned out to be Madagascar, the large island originally settled sometime around 300BC - 500AD by Austronesian pioneers. I'm sure we didn't talk about Asians being indigenous to part of Africa in school, and my interest was piqued.


Taiwanese Aborigines

The ancestors of the Austronesians came from southern China and settled the Penghu Islands and Taiwan between 10000 and 6000 BCE. New evidence suggests they weren't the first on the scene. At the time, Taiwan was still home to the Australo-Melanesians who may've been descended from the first migration out of Africa and may've arrived arrived some 23,000 years earlier.

Father's Day (contains spoilers)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 20, 2010 09:16pm | Post a Comment


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