Matthew Reeder | 京都大学 東南アジア地域研究研究所

Matthew Reeder

Matthew Reeder
部門・職位
社会共生研究部門
招へい研究員
専門
History, Thailand, identity
研究分野/キーワード
Ethnic identification, politics of dress, knowledge production, borderlands
連絡先
mreeder@nus.edu.sg

Matthew Reeder

Legibility in Ink: Tattoos, Identification, and Labor Control in Nineteenth-Century Siam

My project examines the tattoo as a technology of labor control in Siam (Thailand). Throughout the nineteenth century, agents of the Thai state forcibly tattooed male commoners with personal or group identity information to facilitate taxation, conscription, and corvée. While Thai subjects were the initial targets, King Rama III (r. 1824-1851) and his successors soon turned their attention to marginal groups such as mobile highland communities, secret society convicts, and borderland peoples whose loyalties were, at best, divided. By marking these liminal individuals with visual symbols of identity like Chinese characters or red elephants, the state at once claimed these marginal populations as their own and marked them, indelibly, as outsiders. So, the project highlights the contested process of human boundary-making in an emerging nation.