Cultural Expertise: An Emergent Concept and Evolving Practices
A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2019) | Viewed by 35835
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.
Interests: expert wtinessing and cultural expertise; law and governance; legal pluralism; gender and judging; judicial education; state- and non-state jurisdiction; ADR; Islamic law; Hindu law; anthropology of human rights; documentary filmmaking; mixed research methods
Cultural expertise in the form of expert opinions formulated by social scientists appointed as experts in the legal process is not different from any other kind of expertise in court. In specialised fields of law, such as native land titles in North America and in Australia, the appointment of social scientists as experts, especially anthropologists, dates back to the 19th century. Social scientists have played an active role in policymaking in the United Kingdom and the United States for more than two hundred years. In the contemporary management of migration fluxes, the appointment of anthropologists as country experts has become increasingly frequent in common law and civil law countries for immigration proceedings. On one hand, doubts and concerns exist regarding the usefulness and appropriateness of social sciences, and in particular anthropology, for dispute resolution; while on the other, existing conceptual tools do not allow an encompassing analysis of the use of socio-anthropological knowledge in the legal field, especially for what concerns the usefulness of social scientists as expert witnesses. A first definition of cultural expertise proposed cultural expertise as “the special knowledge that enables socio-legal scholars, or, more generally speaking, cultural mediators - the so-called cultural brokers-, to locate and describe relevant facts in light of the particular background of the claimants and litigants and for the use of the court”.However, this definition is too restrictive today because it does not account for the broader range of out-of-court procedures in which social sciences knowledge is applied to the resolution of conflicts, litigation, and the formulation of rights—hence the need for an integrated definition of cultural expertise that takes into account both in-court and out-of-court conflicts and connects with the current debates on the impact of social sciences in society. Although the definition of cultural expertise is new, the practices that this concept describes are not. This Special Issue focuses on the contemporary evolution and variation of cultural expertise as an emergent concept providing a conceptual umbrella to a variety of evolving practices, which all include the use of the special knowledge of social sciences for the resolution of conflicts. It surveys the application of cultural expertise in the legal process with an unprecedented span of fields going from ethnopsychiatry to the recognition of the rights of autochthone minorities including linguistic expertise, historical expertise in situations of transitional justice, and post-colonial reformulation of cultural rights. The stress of this Special Issue is on the development and change of culture-related expert witnessing over recent times, culture-related adjudication, and resolution of disputes, criminal litigation, and other kinds of court and out-of-court procedures. This Special Issue offers descriptions of judicial practices involving experts of local laws and customs and surveys of the most frequent fields of expert witnessing that are related with culture; interrogates who the experts are; their links with local communities and also with the courts and the state power and politics; how cultural expert witnessing has been received by judges; how cultural expertise has developed across the sister disciplines of history and psychiatry; and eventually, it asks whether academic truth and legal truth are commensurable across time and space.
This special issue is an output of the project titled “Cultural Expertise in Europe: What is it useful for?” (EURO-EXPERT) funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under H2020-EU.1.1. programme (ERC grant agreement no. 681814), Principal Investigator: Livia Holden.
Dr. Livia Holden
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- Culture and law
- Plurality of laws
- Conflicts of law
- Socio-legal theories
- International law rights of vulnerable groups
- Indigenous rights
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Transitional justice