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Dr Jonathan Saha

Associate Professor (South Asian History)

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Associate Professor (South Asian History) in the Department of History  


My research focuses on the history of British imperialism in Myanmar (Burma) during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My first book, Law, Disorder and the Colonial State, looked at the history of corruption in the Ayeyarwady delta. I have also published on the history of imperial masculinity, crime, medicine, and colonial psychiatry---as well as an article on a murder that took place in London Zoo in the 1920s.

My second book Colonizing Animals: Interspecies Empire in Myanmar is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, and examines the animal history of British colonialism in Myanmar. Through an "interspecies lens" it tackles the topics of commoditization, imperial ideologies, and anticolonial thought. 

I have just finished an Independent Social Research Foundation mid-career fellowship on the topic of "Accumulation and Empire". The project explored the utility of the conception of accumulation for better interrogating the imperial past.

I was educated at Healing Comprehensive School and Franklin Sixth Form College in Grimsby, before studying for my undergraduate degree in History and Politics at the University of Sheffield. I completed my Master's degree and PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Before coming to Durham I was an associate professor at the University of Leeds and lecturer at the University of Bristol.

Editorial Work

I am a member of the editorial collective of the radical history journal, the History Workshop Journal. I am also an editor for the Empire's Other Histories series published by Bloomsbury.


I have been a member of the Royal Historical Society's Race, Ethnicity and Equality Working Group since 2017, and was a co-author of the Group's 2018 report. Since 2019, I have co-chaired the Group with Dr Sadiah Qureshi.

I am a member of the Social History Society BME Historians Network, and a member of the University of Durham's BAME Network. I also sit on the panel for the Joint BME Events and Activities Small Grants.

Research interests

  • Colonial Myanmar
  • Animal History
  • Legal History
  • British India
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • History of Medicine
  • Imperial Masculinities

Research groups

  • South Asia


Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Saha, Jonathan (2021). Paperwork as Commodity, Corruption as Accumulation: Land Records and Licences in Colonial Myanmar, c.1900. In Corruption, Empire and Colonialism in the Modern Era. Kroeze, Ronald, Dalmau, Pol & Monier, Frédéric Palgrave Macmillan. 293-315.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2020). E is for Elephant. In Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times. Burton, A & Mawani, R Duke Unversity Press. 55-61.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2019). State Medicine or Medical State? A Prison Epidemic in Colonial Burma, 1881. In Locating the Medical. Deb Roy, R & Atwell, G Oxford University Press. 103-125.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2018). Do Elephants Have Souls? Animal Subjectivities and Colonial Encounters. In South Asian Governmentalities. Legg, S & Heath, D Cambridge University Press. 159-177.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2015). Dis-oriented in a Post-imperial World. In How Empire Shaped Us. Burton, A & Kennedy, D Bloomsbury. 195-204.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2015). Devious Documents: Corruption and Paperwork in Colonial Burma, c. 1900. In Subverting Empire: Deviance and Disorder in the British Colonial World. Manktelow, E & Jackson, W Palgrave Macmillan. 167-184.

Journal Article

  • Saha, Jonathan (2017). Whiteness, Masculinity and the Ambivalent Embodiment of ‘British Justice’ in Colonial Burma. Cultural and Social History 14(4): 527-542.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2017). Colonizing Elephants: Animal Agency, Undead Capital and Imperial Science in British Burma. BJHS Themes 2: 169-189.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2016). Murder at London Zoo: Late Colonial Sympathy in Interwar Britain. The American Historical Review 121(5): 1468-1491.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2016). Milk to Mandalay: Dairy Consumption, Animal History and the Political Geography of Colonial Burma. Journal of Historical Geography 54: 1-12.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2016). Is it in India? Colonial Burma as a ‘problem’ in South Asian history. South Asian History and Culture 7(1): 23-29.
  • Potter, Simon J. & Saha, Jonathan (2015). Global History, Imperial History and Connected Histories of Empire. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 16(1): np.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2015). Among the Beasts of Burma: Animals and the Politics of Colonial Sensibilities, c. 1840-1940. Journal of Social History 48(4): 910-932.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2013). Madness and the Making of a Colonial Order in Burma. Modern Asian Studies 47(2): 406-435.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2013). Colonization, Criminalization and Complicity: Policing Gambling in Burma c 1880–1920. South East Asia Research 21(4): 655-672.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2012). ‘Uncivilized Practitioners’ Medical Subordinates, Medico-Legal Evidence and Misconduct in Colonial Burma, 1875–1907. South East Asia Research 20(3): 423-443.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2012). A Mockery of Justice? Colonial Law, the Everyday State and Village Politics in the Burma Delta, c.1890-1910. Past & Present 217(1): 187-212.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2011). Histories of Everyday Violence In British India. History Compass 9(11): 844-853.
  • Saha, Jonathan (2010). The Male State: Colonialism, Corruption and Rape Investigations in the Irrawaddy Delta c.1900. The Indian Economic & Social History Review 47(3): 343-376.

Supervision students