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Beyond Anthropological Expert Witnessing: Toward an Integrated Definition of Cultural Expertise

Cultural Expertise and Socio-Legal Studies

ISBN: 978-1-78769-516-0, eISBN: 978-1-78769-515-3

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 28 February 2019

Abstract

This chapter explores expert witnessing in anthropology and the raison d’être of cultural expertise as an integrated socio-legal concept that accounts for the contribution of social sciences to the resolution of disputes and the protection of human rights. The first section of this chapter provides a short historical outline of the occurrence and reception of anthropological expertise as expert witnessing. The second section surveys the theoretical reflections on anthropologists’ engagement with law. The third section explores the potential for anthropological expertise as a broader socio-legal notion in the common law and civil law legal systems. The chapter concludes with the opportunity and raison d’être of cultural expertise grounded on a skeptical approach to culture. It suggests that expert witnessing has been viewed mainly from a technical perspective of applied social sciences, which was necessary to set the legal framework of cultural experts’ engagement with law, but had the consequence of entrenching the impossibility of a comprehensive study of anthropological expert witnessing. While this chapter adopts a skeptical approach to culture, it also argues the advantages of an interdisciplinary approach that leads to an integrated definition of cultural expertise.

Keywords

Citation

Holden, L. (2019), "Beyond Anthropological Expert Witnessing: Toward an Integrated Definition of Cultural Expertise", Cultural Expertise and Socio-Legal Studies (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 78), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 181-204. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1059-433720190000078010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited