Governing Burma

  • Stephen L. Keck
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The issues raised by Taw Sein Ko, a believer in the empire, who acknowledged in 1919 that Burma had become ‘the most criminal Province in the Indian Empire’; his complaint about the seeming permanence of crime went to the heart of the question of governing Burma.1 By the completion of the ‘pacification’ of Burma the task of governing had become much more complicated. The history of British governance in Burma remains to be written, but if the experiences of Charles Bayne (1860–1947), who served as financial commissioner and developed a detailed knowledge about the revenues available from the production of teak and the cultivation of rice, are indicative of colonial administration, then the study of the subject might yet produce some unexpected insights into the challenges faced by independent Myanmar.2 In addition, Diana Kim has called attention to the fragmentation of the colonial elite in Burma, which functioned to produce a façade built upon ‘public appearances of unanimity’.3 That noted, the British state in both Lower and Upper Burma might be regarded as a ‘Leviathan’, but it would probably be better to characterize it as an activist entity. John Furnivall, who arrived in Burma in 1902, famously described the evolution of the colonial state in Fashioning the Leviathan (1939).4 John Cady and Robert Taylor followed Furnivall’s lead and (as has the recent work of Jonathan Saha) made the condition and role of the colonial state the subject of intensive study.5


Criminal Procedure Prison System Young Offender Colonial State British Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Nicholas Bayne, “Governing British Burma: The Career of Charles Bayne (1860–1947) in the Indian Civil Service”, The Round Table, 96 (2007), p. 389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Diana Kim, “The Story of the Tattooed Lady: Scandal and the Colonial State in British Burma”, Law and Social Enquiry, 37, 4 (Fall 2012), p. 987.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    John F. Cady, A History of Modern Burma (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1960);Google Scholar
  4. Robert H. Taylor, The State in Myanmar (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009);Google Scholar
  5. and Jonathan Saha, Law, Disorder and the Colonial State: Corruption in Burma c. 1900 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Alleyne Ireland, The Province of Burma. 2 vols. (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1907).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    For more on these figures see: A. Agabeg ‘Constitution and Law’ in Twentieth Century Impressions of Burma, Arnold Wright (ed.) (Rangoon, 1919), pp. 62–4.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Kin Thida Oung, A Twentieth Century Burmese Matriarch (Raleigh, North Carolina:, 2007), p. 30.Google Scholar
  9. 36.
    Sean McConville, “The Victorian Prison: England, 1865–1965” in The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society, Norval Morris and David J. Rothman (eds.) (New York and Oxford, 1998), p. 138.Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    Ian Brown, “A Commissioner Calls: Alexander Paterson and Colonial Burma’s Prisons”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 38, 2 (2007), p. 294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 51.
    John Ramsland, With Just But Relentless Discipline: A Social History of Corrective Services in New South Wales (Australia: the Kangaroo Press, 1996), pp. 140–75.Google Scholar
  12. 52.
    Sean McConville, “The Victorian Prison” in The Oxford History of the Prison, Norval Morris and David J. Rothman (eds.) (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 138–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen L. Keck 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen L. Keck
    • 1
  1. 1.Emirates Diplomatic AcademyUnited Arab Emirates

Personalised recommendations