chapter  8
17 Pages

A faded narrative

Reconstruction and restitution in medico-legal expertise in India
ByFabien Provost

This chapter presents the ethnographic study of the medico-legal examination of two patients who were accusing each other of assault with a knife and whose injuries had to be determined by a medical expert as "self-inflicted or otherwise". It shows that despite a normative framework that constrains them to writing their descriptions and conclusions in the "language of case presentation", doctors have the possibility to resort to rhetorical devices to inscribe their interpretation of both the medical and nonmedical aspects of an examination within the medico-legal report. Numerous manuals of medical jurisprudence thus assert the importance for judicial decisions to be supported by an expertise based on scientific criteria. The medico-legal report constitutes a possible space for subjective inscriptions by means of the "literary rhetoric of medical discourse", which would then undetectably be articulated to the official proceedings of legal institutions.