Introduction to Forensic and Expert Social Anthropology

Home Education Online Courses Forensic and expert courses Introduction to Forensic and Expert Social Anthropology

This course is designed to provide an introduction to key terms, definitions and concepts in Forensic and Expert Social Anthropology.

Course Tutor: Dr James Rose

8 x 1-hour classes

AUD$450 / GBP£245

Starting date: 17th July 2023 9:30am-10:30am BST.

Please email education@therai.org.uk with any questions.

This course is ideally suited to students of social anthropology, early- and mid-career practicing social anthropologists, especially those currently or planning to work in legal-administrative settings, as well as to interested members of the public.

If you are already an enrolled student, you can access our Moodle platform here:

Tutor biography

Dr James Rose is a forensic and expert social anthropologist specialising in culturally-based land claims, cultural heritage protection, data governance and geographic information systems.  His methodological focus includes network-based population dynamics and social and kinship network analysis. James holds two decades’ experience working with Australian state, territory and federal government agencies and departments, Commonwealth institutes, industry regulators, health service providers, universities, community-controlled organisations, and the private sector, and is a Senior Research Fellow with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

University of Melbourne: https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/profile/843112-james-rose 

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4983-1393

Private consulting website: https://www.relational.net.au

Watch a recording of James Rose discussing Forensic Expert Social Anthropology: 

Course objective & structure

The course provides an introduction to key concepts, terms and definitions, together with a developmental history of the role of social anthropologists in legal proceedings across a range of international jurisdictions, including Indigenous land claims, cultural heritage protection, asylum claims, war crimes and genocide trials, among others.

The course will be delivered synchronously in a virtual format over 8 x 1-hour classes. Each class will be comprised of a seminar oriented towards recommended readings and case studies, followed by class discussion.

Classes are designed to introduce students to contemporary best-practice in the subject area by orienting them towards case studies based on the tutor’s professional experience and leading relevant literature. The discussion component of each class is intended to allow students to familiarise themselves via semi-structured Q&A format with the tutor.

Students will receive a certificate of attendance upon course completion.

Missed classes can be recorded at the tutor’s discretion and if requested in advance.

Class 1: Terms and Definitions of FESA Practice

Forensic and expert social anthropology is a specialised professional branch of the more general academic discipline of anthropology. Anthropology emerged during the late 19th century under specific political and economic conditions that no longer exist. In order to properly understand the contemporary theory and practice of forensic and expert social anthropology in particular, it is important to understand how changing political and economic conditions have altered the legal-administrative processes in which anthropology is applied more generally. In this class, we examine the historical circumstances of anthropology’s emergence and subsequent development, as a means to understanding the terms and definitions underpinning forensic and expert social anthropology as a specific branch of the discipline.

Questions

  1. What is the role of forensic science in legal-administrative settings?
  2. What are the key differences in the application of social anthropology and physical anthropology in legal-administrative settings?
  3. How was the discipline of anthropology defined by its founders?
  4. When and under what circumstances did the child fields of social anthropology and physical anthropology diverge within the parent discipline of anthropology?
  5. How are social anthropology and physical anthropology distinctly defined?
  6.  

Class 2: Why ‘Forensic and Expert'?

Social anthropology serves a range of functions in legal-administrative processes. These are associated with two general roles: Either or both forensic investigation and expert witnessing. In this class we examine the features of these two types of practice, their relevance to distinct types of legal-administrative processes, the distinct forms of training, study and experience required to engage in each type of practice, and their interdependence in legal-administrative settings.

Questions

  1. What are the key respective functions attached to the roles of forensic social anthropology and expert social anthropology and why are they interdependent?
  2. What kinds of legal-administrative processes make use of either or both forensic and expert social anthropology?
  3. What is the relationship between forensic and expert social anthropology and cultural expertise?

Class 3: FESA and Legal Anthropology

The specialist roles of FESA practitioners within legal-administrative processes is contingent upon the roles of other participants in those processes, defined by the specific functions performed by those roles, and the formal relations between them. This class introduces the theory of judicial governance, together with key distinctions between statutory and common law, and the distinct ways in which they define the roles of social anthropologists, the legal-administrative functions that they serve, and the relations between social anthropologists and other professionals involved, including lawyers, judges, and statutory agency staff. The class sets out a clear distinction between the anthropological study of legal-administrative systems and participation in legal-administrative processes by social anthropologists.

Questions

  1. What is meant by ‘judicial governance’?
  2. What are the key general roles, functions and relations that constitute systems of legal-administration in which FESA practitioners participate?
  3. What is the difference between forensic and expert social anthropology and legal anthropology?

Class 4: Independent objectivity and duty to the Court

Forensic and expert specialists of any kind, who called to provide evidence and advice to legal-administrative processes, are typically required to commit to principles of objectivity and independence, and to eschew advocacy on behalf of any party to a legal proceeding or other process. This class explores the critical distinction between advocacy and independent expertise in FESA roles and functions, and the overarching duty of FESA practitioners to courts and other legally empowered bodies.

Questions

  1. What is the function of expert independence and objectivity in a legal-administrative setting?
  2. Why is expert independence and objectivity considered mutually exclusive of advocacy in legal-administrative settings?
  3. What are some of the historical reasons for a perceived tension between advocacy and provision of forensic and expert services to legal-administrative processes?

Class 5: Ethical FESA practice, Part A

This class provides a comparative overview of ethical frameworks maintained by professional social anthropological representative bodies and other international organisations relevant to FESA practice. The class explores key features of the ethics guidelines maintained by the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS), and the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (ASA). The class highlights similarities and differences between these guidelines, and examines variable degrees of compatibility with FESA practice.

Questions

  1. To what degree are the current ethical practice frameworks maintained by professional representative bodies relevant to FESA practice?
  2. Are there discrepancies between the opportunities and limitations of ethical FESA practice, and the guidelines discussed?
  3. In the case of such discrepancies, how might FESA practitioners comply with the guidelines discussed while also upholding legal obligations to which they are bound?

Class 6: Ethical FESA practice, Part B

This class elaborates on Class 5 by introducing definitions of harm and risk management in a FESA professional practice setting. This includes preliminary and reiterative assessments of risk to both legally-involved individuals and communities with which FESA practitioners work, and assessments of risk to FESA practitioners themselves. We will consider definitions of health and wellbeing as set out by the World Health Organisation, and consider the degree to which these definitions are reflected in the terms and definitions of professional social anthropological representative bodies reviewed in Class 5.

Questions

  1. To what extent is a regard for the health and well-being of research participants, as defined by the World Health Organization, reflected in leading social anthropological ethics guidelines?
  2. Are there discrepancies between the definition of health and wellbeing set out by the World Health Organization, and definitions of harm set out in leading social anthropological ethics guidelines?
  3. How might FESA practitioners who engage with existing legal-administrative processes give regard to the health and wellbeing of legally-involved individuals and communities?

Class 7: Types of FESA practice, Part A

This class provides a summary of types of FESA practice, examining published examples of FESA practice around the world. The class introduces examples of culturally-based land and resource claims, cultural heritage preservation claims, and culturally-based intellectual property claims.

Questions

  1. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to culturally-based land and resource claims?
  2. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to make to cultural heritage preservation claims?
  3. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to make to cultural heritage preservation claims

Class 8: Types of FESA practice, Part B

Continuing from Class 7, the current class provides a summary of types of FESA practice, examining published examples of FESA practice around the world. The class introduces examples of FESA involvement in culturally-based child custody disputes, genocide and war crimes proceedings.

Questions

  1. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to culturally-based child custody disputes?
  2. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to make to genocide proceedings?
  3. What are the key elements of potential FESA contributions to make to war crimes proceedings?