Anti-Islamic Abuse in Burma and Britain, the Colonial Past and Present

Last week ¬†it was the anniversary of the anti-Indian riots that broke out in colonial Rangoon in 1930. They were ignited when striking Indian dock workers came into conflict with the Burmese labourers recruited to replace them. This clash then spilled over into a broader wave of anti-Indian violence, leaving over one hundred Indians dead….

Archives, Material Histories and Anxieties

At a recent conference on histories of material life in South Asia that I attended there were two excellent papers that touched on the physical creation of archives. The keynote lecture on pre-colonial records in Maharashta,¬†delivered by Rosalind O’Hanlon, described the use of inscribed rocks and copper plates to document and preserve the rites held…

Remembering Empire in Bristol and Brussels

I was recently part of a small delegation of historians from the University of Bristol involved in a trip to the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels. The purpose of the visit was to consider the ways that imperialism and its legacies have been approached in the museum, and the difficulties of publicly engaging…

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Desert Island Discs Decoded

Listening to Aung San Suu Kyi on Desert Island Discs was, for me at least, a surreal experience. It wasn’t the song choices that produced this sense surreality, although I had been expecting more post-punk metallic hardcore and at least one Dr Dre track. Rather it was how Daw Suu Kyi presented herself. The show…

Is Burma ‘Going South’?

I recently read Jean and John Comaroff’s article ‘Theory from the South: Or, how Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa’ in Anthropological Forum (for those of you who either don’t have access to the journal, or would just rather listen instead of read, you can watch a video of John Comaroff delivering a lecture on the…