Hi, I’m Jonathan and I’m Associate Professor of History at the University of Durham. I research colonial Myanmar and have taught a host of different courses on the history of colonialism in South and Southeast Asia. I’m particularly interested in the history of crime, medicine and animals. I completed my PhD in History at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2010, was Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Bristol from 2011-2015 and Associate Professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Leeds before joining Durham in 2020. I’m originally from Grimsby.

On this blog I’ll just be writing little bits about my research, things I’ve read, history, Myanmar, and anything else that I hope might be interesting.

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi I’ve just discovered your blog because you chose to follow me on twitter. My mother, part of a colonial family, was born in Rangoon and my father taught at SOAS so I think I’ll stick around for a while and see what you’ve got to say about colonial Burma ;))

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Thanks Thony! The more the merrier!

  2. Janice Koler-Matznick, MS, ACAAB says:

    Hello Jonathan. A friend sent me your blog about the dogs of Burma. I am writing a book about the origin of the dog and have a large section on the aboriginal village/pariah dogs. Do you have any photos you would allow me to use in the book and in educational presentations? I believe the dog originated in SE Asian area as a dog, from a common ancestor with the gray wolf, and not directly descended from that wolf. I am also interested in preserving the ancient landraces of dogs as examples of earliest types. Thank you for your attention.

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Thanks for the comment. The history of dogs is fascinating. You might be interested in Chris Pearson’s work, here’s the link to his great blog on dogs and history: https://sniffingthepast.wordpress.com/. The photo I used wasn’t mine, but underneath it is a link to the original photographer’s flickr page. I don’t have any of my own photographs of dogs, sorry. All the best with the book, sounds fascinating!

  3. Rocco says:

    Hi Joshua,
    Thank you for your blog, it is very interesting
    I discovered your blog whilst doing research for my blog on Burmese silver, please join me at http://burmesesilver.blogspot.co.uk/

    1. Rocco says:

      Apologies I meant Jonathan!

  4. zaw ni zaw says:

    i had a grand father of mine who served with the imperial forces during the great war. that is ww1.I have been trying to find any records for the burmese who served in that war.
    As you have access or if you have any websites for that subject can you direct me to them.? I hardly knew him as I was only seven yrs old when he passed away.

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Hi Zaw Ni Zaw. Not sure of any helpful records online, but the National Archives in the UK have some records on Burmese soldiers who fought in the First World War. You can search their files online here: http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/. They can copy files you wish to read and provide you them as electronic documents, but for a fee. The Anglo-Burmese Library also has some useful resources for family historians, although most are behind a pay wall: http://www.angloburmeselibrary.com/. Hope this helps!

  5. Rina C. says:

    Helo! My husband is great grandson of Bernard Houghton. We are about to documents/archive Bernard Houghton’s stuff from his post in Burma. Found lots of interesting newspaper clips, unrest report in Akyab and Mandalay.

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Hello Rina! Its fantastic that you’re archiving Bernard Houghton’s stuff—he was a very interesting figure in Burma. I’m sure that the newspaper clips and reports are fascinating. I would love to know what you decide to do with it all.

      1. Rina C. says:

        Agree with you, he was quite an interesting personae. I have been in contact with various Burmese friends; I am thinking of putting it all online as some information might be useful for anyone who’d be interested in Burmese past. Will keep you posted on this.

    2. Mark Houghton says:

      Hello I am also Bernard’s great grandson I would be interested in any information on his life in Burma and england have seen bits and pieces so anything would be gratefully received. Thanks Mark Houghton

      1. rinacrick says:

        Hi Mark, do be in contact with me akaybtree@gmail.com. Rina C.

  6. Phoe San says:

    I apologize that I took some pictures from here of your page. I am sorry.
    I also shared about this website too.
    Please kindly let me know what you want me to do.
    Here is the posts I did from your blogs.
    I apologize again.


    1. jonathansaha says:

      No need to apologize. The original image comes from a book by Alice Hart, called Picturesque Burma, that can be accessed online, via the Southeast Asia Visions collection hosted by Cornell University, here: http://seasiavisions.library.cornell.edu/bookreader/sea:343/#page/1/mode/1up

  7. Luke says:

    It is a pleasure to discover your blog Jonathan. I am currently in the middle of your book and enjoying it considerably. Keep up the great work.

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Thanks Luke. Really pleased that you’re enjoying the book—that’s lovely to hear!

  8. Dear Jonathan Saha,

    I found your contact on the list of participants of the Elephant Conference organised by SOAS, in Bangalore and the subject of your paper caught my attention. I wanted to communicate with you on a specific subject and the e-mail given on the SOAS website seems to be inaccurate. Kindly contact me via e-mail.

    Thank you and best regards,

    Prajna Chowta

  9. Luke Corbin says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    This seminar recently caught my attention and I thought you may be interested in the eventual thesis.

    Muhammad Kavesh
    PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, CHL, ANU

    Passion and Pleasure: Interspecies Intimacy in South Punjab, Pakistan
    “I discuss the impact of animal rights/welfare debates in pre and post-colonial Pakistan, and examine the role of animals in animating human lives through pigeon flying, cockfighting, and dogfighting in present-day South Punjab. I explicate the human-animal intimacy that develops during feeding, training, and flying/fighting the animals. I suggest that the animal activities should not be understood as merely ‘sporting activities,’ ‘rural entertainments’ or through any other etic category. Rather, I maintain that such activities constitute meaningful cultural scripts through which we can examine how social relationships; symbolic practices and ideological orientations are established and re-ordered overtime.”


    1. jonathansaha says:

      Sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing

  10. Ben S says:

    Dear Johnathan,
    Whilst looking for information about colonial Burma, I stumbled on your website. I have enjoyed reading your articles and found it very interesting. My great-grandfather worked for the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation at the beginning of the 20th century. He was a keen photographer and I found his camera and a photograph album in the attic. I have put the photos on my website for all to see. Knowing you interests it will be right up your street! Whilst no doubt you will find some of his colonial attitudes repugnant, it is a fascinating record nevertheless. You are welcome to copies of any of the images that are of interest.
    Kind regards,

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Dear Ben,
      Many thanks for getting touch and sharing these wonderful photographs! They’re a fantastic resources for people interested in the country’s social history!

    2. jonathansaha says:

      Dear Ben,
      Thanks again for sharing these photographs. I am in the process of putting together a plan to hold an exhibition of historical photographs of Burma’s timber trade in the UK and Myanmar. You’re grandfather’s stunning images would make a wonderful addition. Please could you drop me an email at j.saha@leeds.ac.uk and I can tell you more about the proposed events, and ask whether you’d be happy to include reproductions of these photographs.

  11. Frank R says:

    I like the blog about Biggar and safe spaces. Eloquent and forceful. The penultimate paragraph, however, has a couple infelicities: one’s self/ oneself and right-wind/ right-wing. Keep up the good work!

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Thanks! I blame the sleepless nights with a newborn.

  12. Thea Ayres says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    I just discovered your blog. I loved your article on elephants in the Burmese timber industry. It really gave me a new understanding of animal agency.

    I’m looking for a masters course that combines my interest in postcolonialism and Asia with my interest in animal studies. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on animals and plants in the Mughal royal court. I’m considering making an application for MA Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies or MA Social History of Art at the University of Leeds. Besides Leeds, do you know of any other centres for animal studies in the UK (especially in the North)?

    My apologies if I’m being presumptuous by asking you for advice.

    Many thanks for your time,

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Hi there Thea – if you could email me at j.saha@leeds.ac.uk, I’d be happy to offer some advice. For now, I would recommend the MA Race and Resistance programme at the University of Leeds – you’d definitely get postcolonialism and the opportunity to study South Asian history. Also, I’d say if you have a clear idea of what you want to research, and have done well with research projects during your undergraduate degree, a MRes might be a possibility.

  13. Chema Román says:

    Dear Jonathan Saha,
    Just Many thanks for your blog. I’m an spanish illustrator and historian who currently lives in Yangon. I’m working in a kind of book/Travel (?) notebook about this country. Your blog its one of the most interesting source of information that I’ve been able to find.
    (I’m sorry for my rusty english)

    1. jonathansaha says:

      Thank you! That really is greatly appreciated. Your own work sounds fascinating – please do keep in touch, I’d be very interested in how your book comes together.

  14. Arijit Kundu says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    While I searching on animal history, i have noticed your blog. The blog is very helpful for the animal history . The essays are very much interesting. I am reaseaching on the Animal history of colonial Bengal especially natural history, animal trade, zoological gardens, horse races, circus and cruelty acts etc . Your blog is inspiring me. Your writings help me to penetrate into varius unknown areas of animal world. I am also searching on the Animal trade – the Animals which were brought from varius south asian countries into the Calcutta zoological garden. I wish your kind helping hand for the matter. And waiting for your next beautiful writing.


    Arijit kundu,
    Ph.D research scholar .
    Visva- Bharati university

  15. Aung Mon says:

    This is Aung Mon. I’m looking for history of dogs in Burmese as some breeds are extinct already or very difficult or no information about their history, for instance, we could not find any recorded information about “Inn Dog” in Burma though it is a quite famous breed. Hence, I would like to check if any such document or any reference I can refer to. Thanks in advance.

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