Acoustic Jurisprudence: Listening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi

Hardcover | November 28, 2015

byJames E. K. Parker

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Between September 2006 and December 2008, Simon Bikindi stood trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, accused of inciting genocide with his songs. In the early 1990s, Bikindi had been one of Rwanda's most well-known and popular figures - the country's minister for culture andits most famous and respected singer. But by the end of 1994, his songs had quite literally soundtracked a genocide.Acoustic Jurisprudence is the first detailed study of the trial that followed. It is also the first work of contemporary legal scholarship to address the many relations between law and sound, which are of much broader importance but which this trial very conspicuously raises. One half of the bookaddresses the Tribunal's "sonic imagination". How did the Tribunal conceive of Bikindi's songs for the purposes of judgment? How did it understand the role of radio and other media in their transmission? And with what consequences for Bikindi?The other half of the book is addressed to how such concerns played out in court. Bikindi's was a "musical trial", as one judge pithily observed. Audio and audio-visual recordings of his songs were played regularly throughout. Witnesses, including Bikindi himself, frequently sang, both of their ownaccord and at the request of the Tribunal. Indeed, Bikindi even sang his final statement. All the while, judges, barristers, and witnesses alike spoke into microphones and listened through headphones. As a result, the Bikindi case offers an ideal opportunity to explore what this book calls the"judicial soundscape".Through the lens of the Bikindi trial, the book's most important innovation is to open up the field of sound to jurisprudential inquiry. Ultimately, it is an argument for a specifically acoustic jurisprudence.

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Between September 2006 and December 2008, Simon Bikindi stood trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, accused of inciting genocide with his songs. In the early 1990s, Bikindi had been one of Rwanda's most well-known and popular figures - the country's minister for culture andits most famous and respected singer. But by...

James E K Parker is a Lecturer in Law at Melbourne Law School, where he is the director of a research programme on "Law, Sound, and the International" at the Institute for International Law and the Humanities. James is also a music critic and radio broadcaster.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.86 inPublished:November 28, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198735804

ISBN - 13:9780198735809

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Table of Contents

Part I: Acoustic Jurisprudence1. The Case for an Acoustic Jurisprudence2. Listening to the Trial of Simon BikindiPart II: Song3. The Musicology of Judgment4. A Musical TrialPart III: Speech5. Voices of Law6. Giving VoicePart IV: Sound7. Judging the Soundscape8. The Judicial SoundscapeConclusion9. Towards Acoustic Justice