The settlement of Madagascar by speakers of an Indonesian language: making sense of the multidisciplinary evidence
The University of Melbourne
The Malagasy people (Madagascar) speak an Austronesian language, which is most closely related to languages in the East Barito area in South Borneo (Indonesia). Their roots are in East Africa and island South East Asia.
In this talk I will combine evidence from linguistics, traditional literature, human genetics and other research disciplines in order to explain the settlement of Madagascar by Austronesian speakers some 12/13 centuries ago. I will address the following questions:
1. How old are contacts between East Africa and insular South East Asia?
2. When did humans first come to Madagascar? Were Austronesian and Bantu speakers the first inhabitants?
3. Who were these early Austronesian-speaking migrants, and where did they originally belong in the demographic and socio-political landscape of South Borneo?
4. What migration routes did they follow when they left South East Asia?
5. How can we make sense of the seemingly contradictory evidence from historical linguistics and human genetics regarding the Asian roots of the current Malagasy?