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Accueil > Publications > Dernières publications

New book by Fabien Provost, associate member of CEH

Les mots de la morgue. La médecine légale en Inde du Nord
Nord (Editions Mimésis, collection "Ethnologiques" edited by Philippe Descola)

The book is available on the publisher’s website.

Fabien Provost (postdoctoral researcher, King’s College London)


Abstract : Based on a year-long ethnographic survey in the morgues of North Indian hospitals and on work on judicial archives, Les mots de la morgue explores the daily practice of forensic medicine. By describing the meetings between doctors, police officers and families, the medico-judicial examinations, and the task of writing reports, the author develops an anthropological approach to the relationship between medicine and law. What happens to medical practice when it serves a legal purpose ? How do writing strategies allow doctors to redefine their role in legal proceedings ? The analyses reveal the games of anticipation, the diversity of knowledge and the professional tensions that govern the production of medico-legal evidence.

Over the months spent in the company of forensic experts, a genuine relationship of trust was established. By sharing their views on forensic medicine, these informants agreed to reveal acts for which they could be prosecuted : breaches of judicial procedure, certain illegal acts of falsification, their sometimes conflicting relations with the police and judges. The wrongdoings are not mere anecdotes shared with the ethnologist ; on the contrary, these accounts of their experience have sometimes played a decisive role in my analyses.

Fabien Provost holds a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Paris Nanterre, specialising in medical and legal issues. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London, where he shows a keen interested in the transformations of cancer practice in India. He co-edited the book L’hôpital en Asie du Sud. Politiques de Santé, pratiques de soin (2019) and issue 73 of the journal Techniques&Culture, entitled Biomimétismes. Imitation des êtres vivants et modélisation de la vie (2020).