The Politics of Corpse: The Elimination of Horror and the Control of Dead Bodies during the “Civilizing Process” in Siam in 1880s

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Phattharanit Kiatthanawit

Abstract

          This article examines the longstanding tradition of dead body disposal in Thai society. Findings reveal that in the past dead bodies were commonly found in public and the dead disposal was so dreadful that it caused horror to those who witnessed it. It was not until 1880s when the Siamese elite began “the civilizing process” that the horrific practices were eliminated and replaced by funerals arranged by undertakers. The author argued that the transformation of dead body disposal signifies not only the adaptation of the country to western civilization but also more restricted power imposed by the state on the body and corpse of individuals.

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References

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