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Sovereign NecropolisThe Politics of Death in Semi-Colonial Siam$
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Trais Pearson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501740152

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501740152.001.0001

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Treaty Port Tort

Treaty Port Tort

(p.63) Chapter 3 Treaty Port Tort
Sovereign Necropolis

Trais Pearson

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers the kinds of legal and medicolegal disputes that arose when foreign residents sustained injuries on the tracks of the Bangkok Tramway Company. It looks at the kinds of expertise and institutions responsible for adjudicating claims for compensation and considers the rights of the Bangkok Tramway Company, its employees, managers, and shareholders. In answering these questions, the chapter analyzes “jurisdictional politics,” “conflicts over the preservation, creation, nature, and extent of different legal forums and authorities,” in the plural legal arena of treaty port Bangkok. It deconstructs historical metanarratives about the “Westernization” or “modernization” of Thai law by revealing the fractious nature of Western law, including evidence of internecine squabbles between the representatives of legal and medical expertise—barristers and physicians—but also among the laypeople who advocated for particular brands of European legal tradition. It therefore complicates celebratory narratives of legal liberalism by demonstrating how nationalist sentiments and professional self-interest were the true impetus for legal change, not any grand imperial ambitions for bestowing law as a civilizing force.

Keywords:   Bangkok Tramway Company, compensation, jurisdictional politics, treaty port, Bangkok, Thai law, Western law, legal liberalism, legal change

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