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

$38.00 SGD

by Greg Bankoff & Sandra Swart

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.

"Breeds of Empire is a marvelous book about the horses and people of a region that many readers from western countries know little about." - Margaret E. Derry, Agricultural History, vol. 83, no. 3, 2010

Greg Bankoff is a social and environmental historian of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In particular, he writes on environmental–society interactions with respect to natural hazards, resources, human–animal relations, and issues of social equity and labour. He is professor of modern history in the Department of History, University of Hull.

Sandra Swart is an environmental and social historian of southern Africa. She received both a DPhil in Modern History and MSc in Environmental Change from the University of Oxford. She is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. 

Publication year: 2007
272pp / 229 x 152 mm
8 maps, 5 bw figures, 9 tables
ISBN: 978-87-7694-021-8, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-014-0, Hardback

NIAS Press