immigration, Central America, Maya, expert testimony, criminalization
Anthropologists have worked in legal arenas as experts on civil, criminal, and asylum cases throughout the history of the discipline. Today expert witnesses give opinions on the conditions of countries where immigrants flee, and that work includes ethnographic interviewing, research into the causes of political and social violence, and appearing in court through written affidavits and personal testimony. Expert testimony today includes helping in the defense of people fleeing intimate partner violence, persecution based on sexual orientation, threats and violence by gangs, and those whose political opinions put them at risk. Immigrants in the United States face institutional culture shock, structural violence, and criminalization of their lives. Case studies of immigration, civil, and criminal cases illustrate how theory and practice intersect in the harsh light of court cases.
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