A Talk by Prof. Natanaree Posrithong: "The Imperial Harem of Siam: Life inside the Inner Court of King Chulalongkorn 1868-1910”

Friday, 6 April, 2018

 

Abstract

“The Imperial Harem of Siam: Life inside the Inner Court of King Chulalongkorn 1868-1910”

Western criticisms of the inferior status of Siamese women became the monarch’s concern by the late nineteenth century. Many of these foreign accounts criticised the practice of polygamy of Siamese men as well as the brutal punishments that were carried out on women inside, what was known as, the imperial harem of Siam. This presentation argues that the life inside the inner court was, in reality, contrast to the foreign accounts. It will explore the roles of palace women (including the queen consorts, concubines, ladies-in-waiting, and general female labourers) that emerged in the reign of King Chulalongkorn. The active roles of women, who had moved beyond the confined boundary of the inner court to the previously male-dominated sphere, such as the King’s office and other administrative offices of the palace will be discussed. At the end of the presentation, the speaker hopes to draw a comparison on the status of women between the inner courts of Siam and the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century.