The story starts in Moulmein in
1836, chief town of the rapidly growing little colony of Tenasserim.
The large British garrison needs beef. The merchants and the East India
Company want trade with China.
The Chinese Muslim traders come to Ava annually. Can they be encouraged
to come to Moulmein? Can the British deal directly with the little
known Shan or Lao states, variously under Burmese, Chinese or Siamese
Two of the most senior administrators of the colony are dispatched on
separate missions, in the dry season, on elephants and horses, to make
friends and open up the 'golden road of trade and friendship', which is
an old Asian term of diplomacy. They are Captain William Couperus
McLeod and Dr David Richardson, both seconded from the Madras Native
Infantry. They have good language skills and much experience of the
1824-6 war with Burma and of traveling in the hinterlands of
Tenasserim. They visit Chiang Mai, Chiang Tung, Chiang Rung, Mok Mai,
Müang Nai, Müang Yong, Yawnghwe, Ava and Karen territory.
They are both astute diplomats and excellent diarists.
Their journals are valuable sources of information on a great many
topics and make fascinating reading. They were produced as British
Parliamentary Papers in 1869 when arguments were flying about the best
railway route to China from India. They were not to be edited and
published until 2003 as part of the book by Volker Grabowsky and Andrew
Turton 'The golden road of trade and friendship: the McLeod and
Richardson diplomatic missions to Tai states in 183'7 (Chiang Mai:
Silkworm Books, 2003). This volume has come to be regarded as a state
of the art example of how to present and annotate such colonial
Andrew Turton's talk will focus on the personal encounters between the
two Anglo-Scottish soldier diplomats and the people, high and low, with
whom they had dealings. It will also consider the frontier situation of
British India and the Tai speaking world in this pre-imperialist moment
of South East Asian history. Many other topics can be covered in the
Andrew Turton came to Thailand in 1962 for two years as Assistant
Representative at the British Council in Bangkok. He returned in 1968
for two years of anthropological research in Chiang Rai, then again in
1976 and afterwards for many shorter visits to Thailand, Laos and
Sipsongpanna. He was for many years Chair of the Centre for South East
Asia research at SOAS, London University, and Head of the Department of
Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS. He is now a Consultant Social
Anthropologist with special interests in Thailand and South East Asia.
Andrew has published on many and varied aspects of northern Thai and
khon müang ways of life and Thai history, culture and society,
including such topics as: rural economy, local politics, vernacular
architecture, invulnerability, spirit cults, slavery and pre-modern
diplomacy (Siamese and English). Two recent books are 'Civility and
savagery: social identities in Tai states'. London: Curzon 2000
(edited), and jointly with Volker Grabowsky 'The gold and silver road
of trade and friendship: the McLeod and Richardson diplomatic missions
to Tai states in 1837'. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2003. His latest
publication appeared in the Journal of the Siam Society 2006 Vol. 94
'Remembering local history: Kuba Wajiraphanya (c.1853-1928), Phra
Thongthip and the müang way of life'.
1) Convenor: Brian Hubbard. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Tel./Fax: 053 40 94 18.
Address: 106/18 Moo 2 - Potharam Road, Soi Pai di-Ma di, Chiang Mai
2) Secretary: Louis Gabaude: e-mail: email@example.com. H/O
Phone: 053 11 73 19;
Mob. 087 188 50 99. H/O Fax: 053 85 04 85.
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