Arguing against Malays’ ‘Sundaland origins’

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via the Malay Mail, 12 August 2018: An editorial from The Malay Mail weighing in on the ludicrous and racist claims by Zaharah Sulaiman on the origins of the Malays as the progenitor of a good portion of modern human populations. There is fringe and pseudo-archaeology, and then there is factually inaccurate archaeology that has very dangerous consequences on society if not enough people speak up about it.

Regardless, proponents of the “Malays Out of Sundaland” hypothesis completely ignored the fact that the “Malay” term frequently used in Malaysia is but a social construct: solely defined in the Constitution as Muslim natives who practise the Malay culture.

This definition has since been used to justify various affirmative action policies and special positions, and eventually but unfortunately, racism against others who should be afforded the same status as citizens following the formation of Malaysia.

The “Malays” is not a distinct race uniquely different from the others, but if taken as a general term would include a melange of ethnicities and backgrounds from the Malay lands.

And the eventual stinging rebuttal from five academics who worked on human population genetics, archaeology and history against Zaharah’s “Malay genes oldest” claim only serves to undermine the hypothesis.

Source: Arguing against Malays’ ‘Sundaland origins’ | Malay Mail

RFP: Uncovering Human Origins in Asia and Africa

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Grant opportunity by the National Geographic Society for human origins research, including within Southeast Asia. Deadline is on 3 January 2018

For more than 50 years, the National Geographic Society has supported exploration into the evolution of humankind. Our grants have led to hundreds of new discoveries in paleoanthropology, paleolithic archaeology, molecular anthropology, and paleoecology that have fundamentally changed the understanding of our own species. As we consider that legacy, we look to those areas of the planet where little is known about human origins, and we seek to invest in new ideas, projects, and explorers in and from these regions. The goal of this fund is to encourage more investigation of hominid evolution in Africa and Asia, with preference given to projects in relatively unexplored parts of those continents. Preference will also be given to applicants who are residents or citizens of the country of fieldwork as well as to projects with strong local capacity development components.

Priority will be given to projects that aim to do one or more of the following:

  • Discover or explore new paleoanthropological fossil sites in Africa or Asia, particularly those in Central and West Africa and those in East, Southeast, South, and Central Asia
  • Increase understanding of the biological, cultural, or ecological parameters of human origins in Africa or Asia
  • Develop local capacity in human origins exploration in Africa or Asia

Applicants may request up to US $50,000, though grants are typically funded for less than US $30,000. Up to 20 percent of the requested amount can be used as stipends for the applicant or team members (please see the How to Apply page for stipend eligibility requirements and other budgetary guidance). Projects focused around education or storytelling should explicitly state the plan for evaluating the impact of the work.

Source: RFP: Uncovering Human Origins in Asia and Africa

The human race from proto-Malays? Prove it.

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Sometimes a story appears that is so stupid, so inane, that you just have to rant about it. The Malaysian Insider, an online newspaper, today published a story about how some archaeologists have claimed through their “scientific” studies that they have traced the lineage of humankind to the proto-Malay race. This is total bull.

Study claims human race came from Proto-Malays
The Malaysian Insider, 20 January 2012
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Fossil of common ancestor found in Burma

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It’s the news like these that reminds us about how much more there is to know about human evolution. This time, an exciting fossil discovery of the jawbone and teeth of an extinct primate species has been found near Bagan, in Myanmar. The now-dubbed Ganlea megacanina was a common ancestor to humans and apes who lived 38 million years ago. The added significance of the date is that it lends support to the thesis that the common ancestor of humans and apes came not from Africa, but perhaps from Asia instead. I’ll expect we’ll revisit this idea in time to come, until more fossils are found – if they can survive this long.

Myanmar fossil may shed light on evolution

AP, 02 July 2009

A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 01 July 2009
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