Mules in the Indian Ocean World: Breeding and Trade in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1780s to 1918
In the history of commodity chains, mules have been neglected, and this chapter attempts to rescue these valiant animals from the ‘enormous condescension of posterity’. Local requirements expanded in the Indian Ocean World during the great economic boom of the long nineteenth century, primarily for transport purposes. Military needs spiked suddenly and unpredictably, and mules became the standard animals for mountain batteries and logistics. Supplies began to come from outside the Indian Ocean World, notably from South America, as import costs fell steeply. Disease limited breeding within the region, as may have cultural prejudices, for example in India and Australia.