Author:John R. Campbell (School of Oriental & African Studies)
Paper short abstract:
To the extent that anthropologists assist a court of law by providing 'expert testimony', can it be said that their written reports constitute a recognised anthropological genre of writing?
Paper long abstract:
Lawyers who represent a refugee making a claim for asyloum in the UK sometimes request anthropologists, as acknowledged country experts, to provide and "Expert Report'.This report (directly and indirectly) assesses the credibility of the asylum applicants claim by specifically commenting on the issues raised by the applicant and/or by commenting on issues specfic to the country from which the individual has fled. Such reports are then submitted to the court together with submissions by the lawyer. In recent years legal scrutiny has increasingly defined the format of these reports by regulating both their content and the language they use. More often than not the Court rejects an expert report on the grounds that the expert lacks the competence to comment on 'legal' issues. This paper examines this genre of anthropological writing and sets out the criteria by which lawyers and judges read and assess the reports.
Writing anthropology: genres and cultural translation