Accepted paper:

The production and role of forensic evidence in transitional scenarios: a preliminary assessment


Shakira Bedoya Sanchez (International Organization for Standardization (ISO))
Yuriditzi Pascacio-Montijo (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

Paper short abstract:

Through the study of different exhumation initiatives executed by forensic anthropologists in Peru and Guatemala, this paper analyses the production of scientific 'facts' and 'truths' used in legal settings thus enquiring into the role of law in legitimating practices of scientific knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

Through the ethnographic study of exhumation initiatives carried out by different forensic teams in Peru and Guatemala, this paper analyses the role of forensic anthropology to produce 'facts' and 'truth' that can be used in courts dealing with past human rights violations. It asks how the production of 'forensic evidence' plays out in different cultural and political contexts arguing that the creation of a forensic 'fact' is dependent on these contexts. In this respect, this paper enquiries into the role of law as a tool for producing and legitimating practices of scientific knowledge. As well as to examine the ways by which different disciplinary fields and institutional frameworks re-inscribe, appropriate and assimilate 'legal' knowledge to foster their outcomes, questioning the definition of subjects, agents and techniques of management and the forms of co-production- the entanglement of law with the 'stable' categorical terms and fields (expert, science, etc.) and the placing, circumscription and articulation of those categories in the production of a case (Santos, 2007) The paper departs from an epistemic pluralistic proposal combining Goodman's relevant kind notion (1973) and some other complementary works such as those of Hacking (2007), Dupré (1993), and Ali Khalidi (1998) on classification. In general terms, it is sustained that fact as a class react to descriptions and is either the product of, or sensitive to, context, instruments, theories, process of standardization, and notions of objectivity; which in consequence give it a use.

panel P064
Collaboration in criminal justice: actors, processes and translation