Jonathan Saha

Job Title: UAF in History of Race & Empire

I specialise in the history of nineteenth and twentieth-century colonialism in South and Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on British Burma. My research to-date has been into the history of corruption within the colonial state at the turn of the twentieth century. I use cases of what was widespread misconduct in order to explore how the state was experienced and imagined in everyday life. This research was published as a book titled Law, Disorder and the Colonial State: Corruption in Burma c.1900 with Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. As well as corruption, I have published on crime, medicine and ‘madness’ in colonial Burma.


Most recently I’ve become interested in the history of animals, particularly the ways in which they shaped, and were shaped by, colonial rule in Burma. I am currently completing an AHRC early career research fellowship on this subject, and have been focusing on the place of animals within imperial culture, as well as the history of the ‘invention’ of the Burmese elephant. During the University Academic Fellowship at Leeds, I will develop this research project in an attempt to contribute to wider, interdisciplinary debates about the emergence of the Anthropocene: a term used to define the current geological period, in which humans have become the predominant factor shaping the Earth’s ecosystems. Through a focus on British Burma, I will study how imperialism in Asia contributed to the making of the Anthropocene.

I also have a research blog, in case you want to read more…