Cultural Expertise and Litigation in South Asia and Europe

Livia Holden & Malvika Seth

Cultural Expertise and Litigation in South Asia and Europe

Small Group Project 2021

This project pioneers a critical examination of the meaning and usage of cultural expertise in litigation in South Asia and Europe via a cross-jurisdictional analysis. Expert witnesses with various disciplinary backgrounds are known play an important role during decisions on rights and liabilities, helping the judges to understand these matters for a smooth resolution of disputes. However, when it comes to interpretive social science and humanities, controversies arise over the appropriateness of involvement of historians, political scientists, religious leaders as experts of culture. While recent research has discussed approaches adopted by some European jurisdictions, other States appear to have followed different mechanisms in this regard. This project seeks to fill this gap by collecting and analysing a range of data sources (legislation, case law, local scholarship and stakeholder interviews) to uncover the meaning of cultural expertise as emerging from these sources. Furthermore, this approach will strengthen the cross-regional flow of best practices not only on the legal regulation of cultural expertise but also the broader (self-)perception of cultural experts among judges, litigants and expert witnesses themselves. This project plans a synergy with the findings from the EURO-EXPERT research project funded by the European Research Council, which will provide a point of departure and ensure feasibility, resulting in comparative sectoral and cross-sectoral studies aimed to be collected in a special issue of an international journal. The results will be disseminated through the platform of communication for the legal professions, thus having an impact on the legal practice, and will feed into the education of future legal practitioners and expert witnesses themselves.

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