In Australia, anthropologists have been criticized for "conducting themselves as advocates for Aborigines instead of impartial experts", the Australian writes. Because anthropologists frequently had long-term relationships with particular groups of Aborigines, their ability to give objective evidence was sometimes open to attack, Graeme Neate, president of the National Native Title Tribunal says.
Similar findings can be found in a report that was produced for the tribunal last year. It found there was "a certain form of entrenched amateurism" among anthropologists outside universities. "Some expert witnesses have been held to be manifestly advocates for the claimants".
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1. Comment by Tad McIlwraith:
It seems unreasonable to expect anthropologists not to feel empathy for the people they work with and, often, have lived with … but does that eliminate the possibility of objectivity? What about academics with long-term associations with the government? I suspect that the courts are not likely to reduce the value or credibility of their testimonies. Are we simply back to the problem of the power-relations inherent in land and title cases that rely on ’settler’ courts?
2. Jamie writes:
Perhaps it was anthropological or scientific research that led the anthropologist to feel that advocacy was necessary in the first place!
3. Kambiz Kamrani thinks:
Studying cultures and peoples cannot be done without the give and take of personalities, behaviors, beliefs; in my opinion... and that maybe one of the reasons why anthropology has not become the "universal intellectual discipline" that it has potential to be.
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