Sea Nomads of Southeast Asia: From the Past to the Present
edited by Bérénice Bellina, Roger Blench and Jean-Christophe Galipaud
Sea nomads have been part of the economic and political landscape of Southeast Asia for millennia. They have played many roles over the longue-durée: in certain periods proving central to the ability of land-based polities to generate wealth, by providing valuable maritime commodities, facilitating trade, forming a naval force to secure and protect vital sea lanes and providing crucial connectivity. They have existed in complex, codified relations with different sedentary populations, as pirates, guardians of the sea-lanes, merchants and explorers. Paradoxically, as modern states emerged, the sea nomads became progressively marginalized and impoverished.
For many years, the sea nomads were assumed to be without history, and even without archaeology. This has proven far from the case, and recent archaeological findings allow us to more closely describe sea nomadism from the Pleistocene through the early Holocene up to the present. Integrating these findings with the latest in historical research, linguistics, ethnography and historical genetics allows us to better understand sea-nomad ways of life over a scale of millennia and to appreciate the diversity and flexibility of this sea-nomad world. This in turn enriches our understanding of nomadism and mobility as a way of life, and the sea not only as a landscape of resources, but as a home and spiritual landscape as well.
"An ambitious and provocative book. Relying on new archaeological, genetic, linguistic, historical and social science evidence, it traces the story of sea nomadism in Asia from the late Pleistocene to the modern period. It forces scholars to re-examine the role of sea nomads, particularly in the history of Southeast Asia." – Leonard Y. Andaya, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Bérénice Bellina is a research archaeologist focusing on South and Southeast Asia who uses a technological approach to reconstruct cultural processes. She is the Director of the French Archaeological Mission in Peninsular Thailand and Myanmar since 2005.
Roger Blench is a linguist, anthropologist and ethnomusicologist with archaeological interests. He conducts fieldwork in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Jean-Christophe Galipaud is an archaeologist specialising in Pacific Islands archaeology and maritime archaeology. His main focus has been on remote Oceania and island Southeast Asia.
Publication year: 2021
est. 400 pp / 229 X 152mm
56 b/w images, 36 b/w maps, 20 tables