Friday, March 16, 2018

Pearson on Forensic Medicine in Siam

Quentin (Trais) Pearson, Boston College has published "Morbid Subjects: Forensic Medicine and Sovereignty in Siam" in Modern Asian Studies (10 Nov. 2017), 1-27. Here's the abstract:
This article examines the question of Siamese sovereignty in the era of high imperialism through the lens of medical jurisprudence. Although Siam (Thailand) was never formally colonized, it was subject to unequal trade treaties that established extraterritorial legal rights for foreign residents. In cases where a foreign resident was suspected of having harmed a Siamese subject, the Siamese state had to appeal to foreign consular officials to file charges against the suspect. Standards of forensic evidence were crucial in such cases. While medical jurisprudence helped to bolster racial privilege in other colonial legal jurisdictions, this article argues that these disputes rendered the dead and injured bodies of Siamese subjects into potentially powerful pieces of leverage against foreign residents and their political representatives. The dead bodies of Siamese subjects became grounds for challenging foreign courts and asserting Siamese sovereignty.

Further information is available here.