Political Animals

I have just finished reading a story in which a community of pigs stage a revolution. No, not George Orwell’s Animal Farm, but a play called Sukra written by the Burmese nationalist U Nu in 1937. The play was published by the Nagani Book Club, a leftist nationalist publisher in the colony, and has been…

What’s Colonial in a Name?

In a blog post published a few months ago, Matt Houlbrook, the historian of twentieth-century Britain, wrote about the difficulties he had deciding what name to call the man that he has been studying for over a decade. This ‘trickster prince’ went by many aliases during his life. Matt (if I may?) also discussed the…

Fowl Play in Colonial Burma

I’ve been trying to find links between my last research project on the history of corruption and my developing interest in animals, and I think I’ve found one: chickens! Chickens appear in investigations into corruption in late nineteenth-century colonial Burma as bribes. In a case from 1907, a Resident Excise Officer accepted chickens as a…

The Wild Wild West of Burma

Last week I attended a fantastic conference that celebrated the career of Prof. Ian Brown, my PhD. supervisor, who has recently retired. In Ian’s closing paper, he made an important reassessment of some assumptions that underpin the history of colonial Burma. He argued that John Furnivall’s influential argument that Burma experienced a uniquely dramatic increase…