A Road to Extinction: Can Paleolithic Africans Survive in the Andaman Islands?

June 1, 2022


The Jarawa, perhaps the oldest tribe of human beings in the world, may go extinct because of a road that runs through pristine forests in the Indian- administered Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal. No one seems to care. Tourists take the road each day to try to get selfies with the tribespeople, who came from what is now Botswana over 60,000 years ago. Once proud of their independence, the Jarawa are now tempted with biscuits and trinkets, as if they were exotic animals in a human safari park. They can’t survive like this. In this recording of a live interview held on June 1st 2022, Dr Jonathan Lawley returns to what was once a penal colony built by the British to house Indian mutineers. He asks what responsibility colonial administrators like his grandfather may have had for the sad plight of these palaeolithic hunter-gatherers, and what the Indian government should now be doing to protect them. Dr Jonathan Lawley (whose book on this subject is titled ‘A Road to Extinction: Can Paleolithic Africans Survive in the Andaman Islands?) is interviewed by Dr Stephen Games, Envelope Books (editor/publisher). The image shows Dr Lawley on the left. On the right: Andaman Islanders of the Jarawa tribe with the author‘s aunt, Mary Lowis, dated c.1911 (photo by Henry W Seton-Karr).

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