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Human RemainsMedicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris$
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Jonathan Strauss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233793

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233793.001.0001

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Medicine and Authority

Medicine and Authority

(p.16) One Medicine and Authority
Human Remains

Jonathan Strauss

Fordham University Press

This chapter uses press accounts to reconstruct a spectacular case of necrophilia from the mid-nineteenth century. The subsequent trial emblematized the rivalries between medicine and the courts. There were two principal points of dispute: on the one hand doctors argued that the medical profession should be self-governing (and largely, therefore, beyond the purview of the jurists); and on the other they attempted to increase their influence on legal decisions, especially in their role as expert witnesses. At the same time, to secure a position of influence and credibility within society, the medical profession also had to establish its independence from the Catholic Church, and it was able to assume much of the authority that the clergy had previously enjoyed. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries thus saw the rise in France of a new language for making sense of social and asocial behaviors.

Keywords:   François Bertrand, necrophilia, forensic medicine, legal decisions

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