Breeds of Empire

The ’Invention’ of the Horse in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa 1500-1950

by Greg Bankoff & Sandra Swart

272 pp., illustrated
NIAS Studies in Asian Topics # 42
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

Hardback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 014 0, £35.00
Paperback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 021 8, £22.50

Ships of empire carried not just merchandise, soldiers and administrators but also equine genes from as far a field as Europe, Arabia, the Americas, China and Japan. In the process, they introduced horses into parts of the world not native to that animal in historical times. As a result, horses in Thailand, the Philippine Horses, the Cape Horse in South Africa and the Basotho Pony in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho share a genetic lineage with the horse found in the Indonesian archipelago.

This book explores the ‘invention’ of specific breeds of horse in the context of imperial design and colonial trade routes. Here, it focuses on the introduction, invention and use of the horse in Thailand, the Philippines and southern Africa as well as examining its roots and evolution within Indonesia. In addition, it examines the colonial trade in horses within the Indian Ocean and discusses the historiographical and methodological problems associated with writing a more species or horse-centric history.

This is a fascinating study that will appeal not only to scholars but also to the broad horse-reading public interested in all things equine.

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    Carol Ann Boshier's book 'Mapping Cultural Nationalism: The Scholars of the Burma Research Society,1910-1935' has been shortlisted for the EuroSEAS Humanities Book Prize 2019. Congratulations!

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