I am an Associate Professor at Melbourne Law School, where I work across legal scholarship, art criticism, curation, and production. Most of this work has focused on the relations between law, sound and listening. And most of it takes place on unceded Indigenous Lands. I acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation as the custodians of this land, and pay my respects to Indigenous Elders, past and present.

My 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, along with articles and book chapters on the judicial soundscape, the gavel, and the weaponisation of sound. More recently, I’ve written about the sociolegal history of eavesdropping and machine listening, as well as the legal and political dimensions of artworks by, for instance, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, the Manus Recording Project Collective and (unsurprisingly) John Cage. You can download pdfs of these and other texts here.

Since 2017, I’ve increasingly worked in curation, often as an associate curator with Liquid Architecture, an Australian organisation for artists working with sound. The most substantial of these projects was Eavesdropping, an exhibition and substantial public program conceived with Joel Stern and staged first at Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne in 2018 and again on a larger scale at City Gallery, Wellington, Aotearoa NZ the following year.

Since 2020, I’ve spent most of my time working with Joel Stern and Sean Dockray on Machine Listening, which is a platform for collaborative research and artistic experimentation, focused on the political and aesthetic dimensions of the computation of sound and speech. In addition to research, writing, and artworks, we have produced an expanded curriculum; an online library and interview series; numerous on-and-offline events, lectures, performances; and, a browser-based instrument for composing with audio and video via text. This project is funded by an Australia Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

I teach widely across the JD, Masters, and Breadth programs at Melbourne Law School. I’ve been a visiting fellow at Kent Law School, the Program for Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School for Government, and a faculty member at the Harvard Law School Institute for Global Law and Policy Workshop.

And I’ve 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. My 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 I’ve given public lectures, masterclasses, and performances at universities and art institutions across the world, including Goldsmiths, Harvard, Darmstadt, the Rietveld Academy, Edinburgh, Unsound, Gertrude Contemporary, firstdraft, Westspace and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Oh, and I’m a union rep. This probably belonged higher up the bio…

Finally, I use my initials professionally because there’s a lot of other James Parkers around, including plenty of academics, a music critic, a sculptor, and several sex offenders. No relation.