Paratextual Pachyderms

This week I read Sainthill Eardley-Wilmot’s 1912 book The Life of an Elephant. It was one of a number of fictional accounts of animal lives written in the early-twentieth century that attempted to capture what it might be like to be another species. Eardley-Wilmot himself had previously published a popular volume on the life of…

Colonial Canicide, Cruel to be Kind?

One of the ways in which British colonizers sought to distinguish themselves from the colonized populations that they ruled over, and to justify that rule, was through claiming that they treated animals more humanely than the ‘natives’. In Burma this claim was also made, but it was not always straight-forward. Buddhism was viewed by imperial…

The Criminal Tribes of Burma

Back in May last year I wrote a blog that speculated on why it was that Criminal Tribes legislation was introduced into colonial Burma so late. The Act was originally enacted in 1871 and was being used in most parts of British India by 1911. But it was not brought to Burma until 1924. The…

Hunting White Elephants Across Archives

It’s a miserably wet day in Delhi, so I’m using this as an opportunity to catch up on my blog, which has been neglected for the past few weeks. I’m in Delhi, instead of Yangon, in order to use the National Archive of India. This is the first time that I have used this archive….

Spotting Tourists in Colonial Burma

To mark my immanent trip to Burma, I thought I’d write a quick post about the history of colonial tourists. By the twentieth century, British tourists were common in the colony. It was one stop on the established route followed by holiday-makers visiting British India. For colonial officials, these globe-trotters were easy targets for ridicule….

Burma’s Climate and ‘Masculine Nerves’

The other day I was going through the massive pile of scrappy bits of paper that are my old PhD research notes looking for something I could distinctly remember having, but was inevitably unable to find, when I came across a poem. Written in 1911, it succinctly summed up a major theme in my research….

Imperial Book Club

Whilst I was slowly wading my way through Viceroy Curzon’s correspondence this summer, I came a across a letter sent in 1901 from the Secretary of State for India, George Hamilton, in which he recommended a novel. Well, sort of. I have been reading a clever but disgusting book named Anna Lombard; it deals with…