Forensic and expert social anthropology (FESA) is a branch of social anthropology that specialises in the provision of evidence to legal-administrative processes, which are overseen by courts and other legally empowered bodies, and which give regard to the social cultures of legally and administratively involved individuals and communities (LAIICs). Despite a preoccupation with political advocacy in the broader philosophy of social anthropology, FESA literature does not typically give regard to LAIIC vulnerability defined qualitatively in terms of social determinants of health, including physical, mental, and social well-being. This paper presents findings from a JBI/PRISMA-ScR scoping review of n=1,674 texts, identifying eight recurrent practice concerns in the relevant literature. Findings indicate that LAIIC vulnerability ranks only sixth among FESA practice concerns. This article serves as a study of FESA models of LAIIC vulnerability and social determinants of health and an unprecedented demonstration of scoping review methodology applied to social anthropological literature.


social anthropology, cultural anthropology, forensic and expert social anthropology, expert witnessing, forensic science

Author Bio(s)

James W. W. Rose (ORCID 0000-0003-4983-1393) was Chief Investigator on this project. He is a forensic and expert social anthropologist working in research and teaching roles with the University of Melbourne and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and in private professional practice across Australia. Please direct correspondence to james.rose@unimelb.edu.au

David Minh Tran (ORCID 0009-0004-9700-7336) was Research Assistant on this project. He currently works as a policy, advocacy and campaigns officer at Oxfam Australia and has a background in history and anthropology. He has written on issues such as climate justice, climate inequality, climate finance and loss and damage. Please direct correspondence to tran.d1@unimelb.edu.au


This research was funded by the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.

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