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“Oral evidence” in Aboriginal land claims cases


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“Oral evidence” in Aboriginal land claims cases

University of Sherbrooke Faculty of Law, Room A7-235

This workshop will be presented by Mr. René Lemieux, professor, Département des lettres et communications, Université de Sherbrooke, member of the Groupe de recherche en études littéraires et culturelles comparées au Canada et au Québec (VERSUS) and the Centre interuniversitaire d'études et de recherches autochtones (CIÉRA).

“Oral evidence” in Aboriginal land claims cases is a subject that has received increasing interest since Delgamuukw (1997). This paper takes a philosophical approach, based on the Derridian concept of “citationality”, to the admissibility of the Indigenous oral tradition as evidence. What happens when Indigenous testimonies are cited by the law? What transformations does these utterances undergo? Taking the art history debate between Claude Lanzmann and Georges Didi-Huberman on photographs by the Sonderkommandos as a model, this paper will examine the aesthetic limits of the “rules of oral evidence” in an Indigenous context. What will be discovered is that the distinction between writing and speaking is less important than the one between what constitutes a testimony and what constitutes a proof, the latter distinction being too often ignored. In the end, it will be argued that rethinking the conditions of possibility of the law as a language system in a hospitable situation is what needs to be done.