Associate Professor James Parker

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James Parker is the Director of a research program on Law, Sound and the International at the Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH). His research focuses on the relations between law, sound and listening, with a particular emphasis on international criminal law, the law of war and privacy. In 2017, James’ monograph Acoustic Jurisprudence: Listening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi (OUP 2015) was awarded the Penny Pether Prize (ECR) for scholarship in law, literature and the humanities. He has been a visiting fellow at the Program for Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School for Government, a faculty member at the Harvard Law School Institute for Global Law and Policy Workshop, and is an associate curator at Liquid Architecture , an Australian organisation for artists working with sound.

James’ published research includes a book exploring the trial of Simon Bikindi, who was accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of inciting genocide with his songs, articles and book chapters on the judicial soundscape, the gavel and the weaponisation of sound. He is currently working on the socio-legal history of eavesdropping and putting together an edited collection entitled Acoustic Justice.

James teaches across evidence, criminal law, legal theory, ethics and STS, in both the JD and Masters programs. He has an interest in legal pedagogy and has both spoken and published on the topic. James also supervises doctoral students and welcomes research proposals from students interested in pursuing critical and theoretical projects concerning law’s many relations to sound or listening, legal aesthetics, the courtroom, evidence and forensics, science and technology, surveillance and contemporary warfare.

James has provided commentary for the ABC, BBC and CNN, amongst others, on controversies including police use of the Long Range Acoustic Device and the alleged ‘sonic attacks’ at the US Embassy in Cuba in 2017. His music and art criticism has appeared in publications such as Tiny Mix Tapes, Frieze, Discipline , Sounding Out and Bloomsbury’s How to Write About Music (2015). And he has given public lectures and performances at universities and art institutions across the world, including Harvard, the Rietveld Academy, Gertrude Contemporary, firstdraft, Westspace and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

With Joel Stern, James is co-curator of Eavesdropping, a collaboration between Liquid Architecture and Melbourne Law School, comprising an exhibition, a public program, series of working groups and touring event which explores the politics of listening through work by leading artists, researchers, writers and activists from Australia and around the world. In 2018, Eavesdropping was staged at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne. In 2019, it will be shown again at the City Gallery, Wellington, NZ.

Memberships and Affiliations

Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia - Member and web officer

Teaching (2024)

The Melbourne JD

Research Centres