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Accumulations and Cascades: Burmese Elephants and the Ecological Impact of British Imperialism

Saha, Jonathan (2022) 'Accumulations and Cascades: Burmese Elephants and the Ecological Impact of British Imperialism.', The Transactions of the Royal Historical Society .


What effect did British imperialism in Myanmar have on frogs? And, given that the lives of these small amphibian creatures were rarely ever recorded or preserved in archival collections, how might we find out? Sceptical readers may also wish to take a step back and ask, why should historians even care about their lives? These are unusual questions for a historian to confront, but they are occasioned by the deepening conversation between ecology and history. This paper delves into the ecological impact of colonial rule in Myanmar through the lives of Burmese elephants and the creatures that they lived alongside. In it I argue that the concepts of ‘accumulation’ and ‘cascade’ are useful for enabling historians to apprehend the full extent of the impact of imperialism on the lives of animals.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:28 February 2022
Date deposited:14 June 2022
Date of first online publication:13 April 2022
Date first made open access:14 June 2022

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