Policing with Pictures in Modern Thailand – a seminar by Dr Samson Lim (Wed, 2 November 2016)

Speaker: Dr Samson Lim (Assistant Professor in History, Singapore University of Technology and Design
Date: Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)


This talk presents a history of the visual culture of policing in modern Thailand. Through an analysis of Thai language primary sources including police training manuals, trial records, and newspaper stories, it argues that in modern criminal investigation, as in the natural sciences, technical considerations for ensuring the objectivity of visual representations used in criminal trials, such as lighting conventions for crime scene photographs and standardized markings on maps, are neither neutral nor natural. Instead, the appearance of visual evidence in the Thai legal system was shaped within a larger network of exchange in objects, practices, and formal conventions. So rather than merely guaranteeing factuality, the rules for producing legal evidence in Thailand are embedded with cultural norms; they are part of an ideological project played out at the level of surface appearances and through new technologies of representation.

About the speaker

Samson Lim is an Assistant Professor in History at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He received his Ph.D. in History at Cornell University. His research examines the connections between technology, capitalism, and cultural change. His first book, Siam’s New Detectives: Visualizing Crime and Conspiracy in Modern Thailand (University of Hawaii Press, 2016), is a history of the visual culture of policing and conspiracy theories in Thailand in the twentieth century. He is currently working on a new book that studies the visual and material culture of finance in early twentieth century Bangkok. Samson is also one of the principle leads of the Opportunity Lab at SUTD, an interdisciplinary teaching and research center that promotes social change through design and engineering projects throughout Southeast Asia.