James has over 20-yrs of research, research training and teaching experience, in a career that ranges across disciples (including in the public sector). This has nurtured a creative arts research practice, particularly intersecting with the documentary and ethnographic arts, and with socio-spatial and cultural enquiry. This has shifted from a social science foundation to a ‘practice as research’ methodology of enquiry. As a research artist, James is a frequent collaborator with artists and researchers across the creative arts. His first forays in research developed from investigating his native culture – the language, place-based belonging and social practices – of the Scottish Hebrides. His research interests range through methodologies of practice-as-research and themes of improvisation and identity, performativity, space and public pedagogy.
Outside of the university sector, James has worked as an arts development officer at the former Scottish Arts Council, and as a researcher, speechwriter and press officer at the Scottish Parliament. James is a Sgitheanach (he is from the Isle of Skye) in the Scottish Hebrides. His Gàidhlig (Gaelic) and islander cultural heritage has deeply informed his research and creative perspectives.