Since the British conquest of Upper Burma after the Third Anglo-Burma War in 1885, the British authorities have tried to control the Chin-Lushai hills that lie in between India and Burma. Nevertheless, the harsh terrain and climate in the region made the British occupation a mission impossible. The encounter between the British and the Panthay mule caravans dramatically changed the dead-end. By outsourcing the imperial logistics and supplies in the hills to the Panthays and their Yunnanese mules, the challenges that haunted the British Empire had eventually been solved. By telling this story, this study tries to revisit the dichotomous discourse of oppression and resistance in the studies of the colonial empires. It further points out that the multispecies relationship of the non-Western world was not always the victim of or the opponent to colonial empires. Sometimes, it facilitated colonial expansion.
Yin CAO (曹寅, Cao Yin) has received an IIAS Fellowship to spend six months (January-June 2024) doing research at IIAS.
His project is 'A Multi-Species Conquest of Zomia: The Colonial State and the Panthay Mule Caravans in the Chin-Lushai Hills'.