(Natural) Historical Haircuts

Research often takes historians into unexpected tangents. This week, I started off continuing to read the Burmese anti-colonial journalist, writer and activist Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing’s Myauk Tika [Monkey Commentary] (1923)—which I have written about a bit here and also here before—and I ended up trying to find out more about Burmese haircuts in the 1920s….

Discoveries in Leeds Discovery Centre

This is the second year that I am teaching my module on the history of animals in colonial Asia. For this year’s class, I thought that it would be fun to see what local resources there might be in Leeds on the topic, and so my students and I took a trip to the Leeds…

Theories of Evolution in Colonial Burma

Historians of natural history have long explored the emergence of evolutionary theory. Most of the studies that I have read on the subject tend to discuss its development and influence within an Imperial framework. The colonized world appears in these histories as a site in which key figures, such as Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles…

Getting the Wasp into the Cyanide Jar

In his address to the Bombay Natural History Society in 1893, Colonel Charles Thomas Bingham regaled the audience with stories from his recent trip along the Myawaddy Road that ran between British Burma and Siam collecting rare specimens of bird, butterfly and wasp. Using cliched imagery, he wrote of the region’s “unbroken forests” where “no…

Missing Links in Myanmar

When I was going through some Burmese colonial-era magazines on my research trip earlier this year, I came across the following article discussing some models that were displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago. I think that they were probably part of the ‘Hall of Prehistoric Man’ which opened in 1933. The article was published…