Cultural expertise is an emergent concept in the social sciences to indicate the special knowledge deployed by experts of laws and cultures for assisting decision-making authorities in conflict resolution and the ascertainment of rights, with information on the socio-legal backgrounds of facts and persons involved.

CASCA's Cultural Expertise Network seeks to accomplish a series of interrelated goals:

1. Contribute to the further development and refinement of cultural expertise as a service and career pathway in Canada.
2. Facilitate the professionalization of, and support provided to, graduate and early-career CASCA member-anthropologists entering the field, such as through CASCA-sponsored training, workshops, and events.
3. Help ensure anthropologists’ practice of cultural expertise is legally principled and sound, culturally competent, and ethical at disciplinary, deontological, and legal scales.
4. Link Canadian anthropologists to scholarly, service, and employment opportunities, such as they relate to work in the areas of – for instance - asylum and refugee claims, criminal and family law, and treaty negotiations and claims. The network could also serve as a vital dissemination platform, capable of promoting the efforts and outputs of CASCA members active in this field, and a forum for discussions related to the sometimes-challenging realities of anthropologists’ service to Canadian courts and out-of-court adjudication processes.
5. Foster the exchange of experiences and scholarship between CASCA member-anthropologists and CULTEXP interdisciplinary network on cultural expertise, explore opportunities for joint research projects, visiting programmes, and the further development of platforms that facilitate and support the role of anthropologists in the ethical contribution to social problems.
6. Consolidate the role of anthropologists acting as experts in court for voicing and making room to the voices of the beneficiaries of cultural expertise.

For CASCA members interested in learning more about and/or joining the Cultural Expertise Network, please contact its Chair Prof. Livia Holden care of:

About the Network's Chair

Prof. Livia Holden has developed the new socio-legal concept of cultural expertise, and is the Principal Investigator of EURO-EXPERT and CULTEXP Projects, which are funded by the European Research Council (ERC). EURO-EXPERT includes a team of more than 50 researchers that has studied the use and impact of cultural expertise in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Three spin-out projects funded by the Global Challenges Research Funds and the Independent Social Research Foundation have carried out the study of cultural expertise in Pakistan, India, and Indonesia.

EURO-EXPERT has led to the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data that maps the use of cultural expertise in-court and out-of-court, and led to a number of important outcomes: 1) map cultural expertise in court and out-of-court, 2) the creation of K-EXP a toolkit capable of measuring the prospective impact of cultural expertise; 3) the development of CULTEXP an Open Access searchable platform for the consultation of cases and expert reports including cultural expertise; 4) the design of a teaching and learning module and training components; and 5) the formulation of policy-making guidelines including a roadmap for the adoption of cultural expertise.


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