Forensic social anthropology

David Trigger, David F. Martin, Paul Memmott, Phillip Winn, Paul Burke, Nicolas Peterson, Peter Veth, Sarah Holcombe, Kingsley Palmer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


In what follows we make it clear that anthropologists called as experts in legal proceedings are legally obliged to eschew any tendency to advocacy in relation to the groups or individuals about which they provide expert evidence.

We briefly chart the increasingly diverse and theoretically eclectic discipline, in part through the case studies, as these provide analyses of the range of contexts within which expert anthropologists work as interlocutors with (often) non-English speaking peoples, and typically (but certainly not always) in situations of marked social marginality and relative powerlessness. Indeed, it is because of the discipline’s history of research with the non-dominant, the socially excluded and the colonised that from the latter half of the twentieth century at least anthropology’s role in advocacy for the marginalised has tended to identify the discipline. This legacy can have a problematic effect both on the legal understanding of the expert anthropologist’s role within the court context, and on anthropologists’ capacity, and willingness, to set aside such advocacy in order to comply with the requirements of expert witnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExpert Evidence
Subtitle of host publicationLaw, Practice, Procedure and Advocacy
EditorsIan R. Freckelton, Hugh Selby
Place of PublicationPyrmont, NSW, Australia
PublisherThomson Reuters (Scientific) Inc. & Affiliates
Number of pages88
ISBN (Print)9780455231624
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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