Elephant Steeplechase

So, on 25 May 1858, this apparently happened in Yangon. This chaotic scene is an elephant steeplechase. According to the newspaper report that accompanied this engraving, the officers of the garrison posted in Yangon organised this event as part of their celebrations marking Queen Victoria’s birthday. They dressed as jockeys and raced the elephants, which…

Traffic Accidents and Structural Power

Re-reading the colonial judge Maurice Collis’ memoirs, Trials in Burma (1938), got me thinking about the history of traffic accidents. The final case that he discusses—the case that marked the beginning of the end to his career in the colony—hints at how traffic accidents could be understood as an expression of white privilege. The particular…

Prisoners and Pariah Dogs

Many things have changed in Yangon since I first visited as a wide-eyed PhD student back in 2008, but the city’s street dogs remain a ubiquitous presence. Although, they have had their own share of difficulties since then. In 2013 the city’s authorities were accused of poisoning them in order to beautify the streets in…