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Murder Most RussianTrue Crime and Punishment in Late Imperial Russia$
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Louise McReynolds

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451454

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451454.001.0001

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Social Crime, Individual Criminal

(p.47) Chapter Two Criminology
Murder Most Russian

Louise McReynolds

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the emergence of forensic medicine and its role in criminal investigations. In the nineteenth century, historian Roger Smith pointed out that “various so-called ‘knowledge professions’ articulated a newly systematic conception of social authority dependent on expertise rather than either tradition or economic power.” These include law and medicine, but their “knowledges” could both overlap and conflict with each other when staking claims to interpreting the evidence in court. Peter the Great brought the two together in Russia with his Military Statute of 1716, which required doctors to perform autopsies in cases of violent deaths and to enter their reports into the legal record. Subsequently, a medical council formed in 1803 set rules for forensic procedures that were codified in 1828. Moreover, forensic medicine became a part of the curricula of law schools, where practicing doctors lectured to prospective attorneys.

Keywords:   forensic medicine, criminal investigations, knowledge professions, Military Statute of 1716, autopsies, forensic procedures

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