Project

Title:Languages, Genes and the Bantu Problem : Western Zambia as a Case Study for an Interdisciplinary Approach to the Population History of Southern Central Africa.
Description:

The project aims to develop an interdisciplinary linguistic and genetic approach to the history of population dynamics in the Western province of Zambia, and thus to contribute to a better understanding of the history of southern Central Africa and the Bantu problem.
The Western Province presents a complex sociolinguistic situation resulting from the overlapping of linguistic strata and the combination of different types of linguistic change and replacement. It constitutes therefore an ideal small-scale and regional test ground to examine what might be the consequences of language change in terms of changing gene frequencies, and in this way to improve and refine the very schematic scenarios about a distant past that currently prevail in the linguistic-genetic debate.

The research focuses on three distinct types of historical linguistic evolution and their genetic impact :
a) the superposition of a foreign but African vehicular language, i.e. Lozi, to the local pre-existing Bantu languages without complete replacement;
b) the contact and interference between languages of two primary Bantu branches having known a long divergent evolution, i.e. East Bantu and West Bantu;
c) the disappearance of Khoisan languages in favour of Bantu languages and the related assimilation of Khoisan-speakers into more recently arrived Bantu speech communities.

This interdisciplinary study is realized through a close collaboration between the Service of Linguistics of the Royal Museum of Central Africa and the Junior Scientists Group on Comparative Population Linguistics and the Department of Evolutionary Genetics of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Such a close collaboration will allow to enhance interdisciplinary method by integrating genetics and historical linguistics for the reconstruction of population history at local and regional level, and to gain a better understanding of the interplay between language history and biological history.

Partners :
- Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig: Junior Scientists Group on Comparative Population Linguistics & Department of Evolutionary Genetics
- Livingstone Museum
University of Zambia
Université libre de Bruxelles

Duration: begin : 2007 - end : 2010
Staff: Jacky Maniacky
Koen Bostoen
External partners:Partenaires: - Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig: Junior Scientists Group on Comparative Population Linguistics & Department of Evolutionary Genetics - Livingstone Museum - University of Zambia - Université libre de Bruxelles
Email:jacky.maniacky@africamuseum.be
Phone:32 2 769 5673

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