some remarks

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Wed Mar 18 12:25:09 UTC 1998

In response to Dominique Thillaud's remarks:
>George Thompson wrote: "we're supposed to be talking about a *migration
>theory*. If you keep on insisting on an *invasion theory*, where there is
>none ..."
>        I don't understand clearly the difference between the two words.
>Was the coming of Europeans in East America a migration or an invasion? Was
>the coming of East Americans in West America a migration or an invasion?
>        From the American point of view they were peaceful farmers going
>toward free lands, undoubtly a migration. Alas, Amerindians knew well the
>land was not "free", the peaceful farmers were armed with guns and
>travelling with a powerful army, undoubtly an invasion (some
>ill-intentioned people say a genocid)!
>        Once again, debating about words is not debating about reality but
>about ideological point of view ;)


Your point is well-taken. Perhaps the distinction between 'migration' and
'invasion' is merely ideological.

I will respond by quoting George Erdosy, whose article has been included
for discussion in our virtual sattra ["Language, material culture and
ethnicity: Theoretical perspectives"]. I think that we all can agree that
Erdosy cannot be labelled as a western colonialist [nor, for that matter,
as a fanatical linguist].

In summarizing the results of his investigations, Erdosy says [p.23]:

"... some support was found in the archaeological record for small-scale
migrations from Central to South Asia in the late 3rd/2nd millennia B.C.,
but any support for Burrow's 2-wave model [Burrow 1973] was firmly ruled
out. The idea of invasions by a barbaric race enjoying technological and
military  superiority was -- I hope -- fatally undermined, and the
chronology of movement into South Asia has been extended by several
centuries, beyond what has generally been assumed from a misreading of the
Rgveda as an account of foreign invasions. Linguists were, moreover, urged
to construct more realistic models of social changes, which could be
further tested against the archaeological record."

So, beyond any ideological considerations, it seems preferable to talk
about migrations rather than invasions, since the former term seems to fit
better with the archaeological record.

I also take seriously Erdosy's call for linguists to come up more realistic



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