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Taking culture to court: anthropology, expert witnesses and aboriginal sense of place in the Interior Plateau of British Columbia

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This thesis examines the way in which indigenous oral knowledge is treated in court by Crown anthropological expert witnesses. I argue that the theoretical frameworks that guide these expert opinions are in defiance of widely taught contemporary academic cannons. My specific focus is indigenous sense of place, an issue that is intensely scrutinized in Aboriginal rights and title cases. As I show, Crown expert evidence ignores contemporary academic paradigms and practices, thereby denying indigenous cultural, social, and historical contexts of oral histories of place. My thesis concludes with some questions and reflections about alternate ways of treating such evidence, which would do better justice to indigenous ways of constructing meaning, rather than alienating and distorting it.
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