School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Andrew Law

Senior lecturer in Town Planning and Degree Programme Director of the BA (Hons) Architecture and Urban Planning

Background

Academic Overview

I am a sociologist with a strong interest in the sub-disciplines of sociological theory, historical sociology, cultural sociology and cultural studies in particular.  Specifically, throughout my career, I have often sought to understand the role that sociology can play in understanding and contextualizing built heritage, urban conservation, architecture(s), planning and landscapes.

Recent academic work

In recent years my attention has turned towards China and particularly Chinese identity, culture, urban development and built heritage. During my academic career I have visited China numerous times and have explored a number of great and interesting cities and places including: Beijing, Chengdu, Gulangyu, Hong Kong, Jining, Macau, Qingdao, Qufu, Shanghai, Suzhou, Tai'an, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi'an. 

Visiting academic positions 

Research positions:

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU)

Peking University

  • 10th of February to the 10th of March 2013: visiting researcher as part of the F7 PUMAH project; Peking University.
  • 1st of August to the 10th of August, 2013: visiting researcher as part of the F7 PUMAH project; Peking University.

 Wuhan University

  • 10th of March to the 10th of May 2013: visiting researcher as part of the F7 PUMAH project; Wuhan University: School of Urban Design.

Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology 

  • 10th of May to the 31st of July 2013: visiting researcher as part of the F7 PUMAH project; Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology.

Teaching positions:

Xiamen University 

  • 28th of June to the 12th of July, 2017: visiting teacher at Xiamen University, China.

External academic associations

  • I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • I am a member of the British Association of Chinese Studies – since July 2014.

Internal academic associations

  • I am a member of the steering committee of the HASS faculty based Anthropocene Research Group.
  • I a convener of the HASS faculty based Asian Studies Group.
  • I am a leader of the GURU based group, Identities, culture and heritage (ICH).

Languages

  • Intermediate Mandarin - Above tourist level but below conversational. I have passed the HSK2.
  • Basic Japanese and basic French.


Research

Research trajectory

After completing my PhD in 2004, I have conducted a variety of research projects; whilst these projects have been different, similar themes have often run through these investigations; specifically, issues around the use and abuse of history, historical imaginaries, historical simulacra, remembering, forgetting, nostalgia, and ideas surrounding the concept of 'golden ages' and/or the 'good life'.

Often, I have explored how selective discourses of the past are utilized by developers, governmental officials, urban specialists, planners and architects in the formation of historic urban landscapes.  My investigations have also revealed the competing political interests and struggles that emerge in the process of historic urban identity making.

I have 8 main over-arching interests:

  • The impact of historic ideas and historical imaginaries on the present.
  • The role of selective remembering and forgetting - particularly historical memory - in the present.
  • The role of nostalgia in the present.
  • The idea of 'golden age(s)', or the 'good olde days' or the 'good life'.
  • Faux history, invented tradition, faux-tradition, plastic-history, historical simulacra/simulacrum.
  • The use of history, selective remembering and forgetting, nostalgia, historical imaginaries, heritage in the construction of identities and notions of place and space. 
  • The use and abuse of history, remembering, forgetting, historical memory, nostalgia and heritage by elite actors.
  • The role of all the themes discussed above in the production of built heritage, urban conservation, architecture(s) landscapes, and town planning.

As stated on my profile page in recent years my research has centred around work in China particularly relating to issues of Chinese identity, culture, heritage and urban development, planning and architecture.

Current Events

I am the lead organiser of a conference on the Yangtze River that will take place between the 4-6th of December this year (2017).  If you are interested please click on the link below:

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/apl/events/eventitems/callforabstractsriskstolifeheritageandcommunityontheyangtzeriver.html

Research Grants

I have been part of many funded projects over the course of my career; recently I was funded by the Sino-British Fellowship Trust and the British Academy/Leverhulme (Small Research Grant application 2014 Round) "Reconstructing Han Identities: The Hanfu Movement in Contemporary China". Reference: SG140012.

Presentations for 2017

  • 24th of June, 2017: “The role of history, nostalgia, and heritage in the construction of entrepreneurial Chinese cities” at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. Association of Asian Studies (ASS) Asia Annual Conference, entitled Asia in Motion: Beyond Borders and Boundaries, 24th to the 27th of June, 2017. http://aas-in-asia2017.com/
  • 26th of May, 2017: ‘The Hanfu movement?’ GURU symposium for the identities, culture and heritage theme (10 minutes, plus panel questions).
  • 1st of February, 2016: ‘Flooding and pollution: Risks to the physical, human and architectural (urban) heritage of the Yangtze River’, (The Yangtze River project), informal research presentation to the Department of Architecture, Construction and Engineering Built Environment at the Politecnico di Milano

Presentations for 2016

  • 20th of December, 2016: ‘Social theory, social science and qualitative methods’, School of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Xiamen University.
  • 6th of April, 2016: ‘Searching for “deep modernities” and constructing Chinese modern identities: using history and heritage in the indigenisation of global capitalist modernity in Chinese cities’. Reclaiming Identity and (Re) Materialising Pasts, Approaches to Heritage Conservation in China, Suzhou, China.

Presentations for 2015

  • 4th of December, 2015: ‘Referential reflexivity and access in China: the unsaid and positionality’, Doing International Fieldwork in Developing Contexts: Postgraduate Training workshop.
  • 14th of September, 2015: ‘Social theory, social science and qualitative methods’, School , Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 30th of July, 2015: ‘Qualitative methodologies: theory, social science and methods’ International Design Summer School, Sino-US-Dutch weeks, School of Urban Design, Wuhan University.
  • 5th of March, 2015: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Constructing Hankou merchant port nostalgia in Wuhan and Tang dynasty nostalgia in Xi’an’. Geography and Planning research seminars (Open to the public as well as academic staff); School of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool.

Presentations in 2014

  • 4th of September, 2014: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Remaking the Tang dynasty in Xi’an, framing heritage, land and Buddhism’, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 4th of September, 2014: ‘The problem of the creative individual: How can we nurture creative individuals in China?’ International Cultural Trade Forum; Beijing International Studies University (BISU).
  • 18th of July, 2014: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Remaking the Tang dynasty in Xi’an, framing heritage, land and Buddhism’ informal PUMAH workshop for our XUAT guests.
  • 10th of June, 2014: ‘The construction of Historical imaginaries: Remaking the Tang dynasty in Xi’an, framing heritage, land and Buddhism’ informal PUMAH workshop; the Beehive Newcastle University. 

Presentations in 2013

  • 24th of June, 2013: ‘The history of Mock Tudor and its relevance to the global middle classes today’, Xian University of Architecture and Technology. 
  • 28th of May, 2013: “The history of built conservation in the UK: emerging perspectives on conservation in the UK and China." Xian University of Architecture and Technology. 
  • 5th of May, 2013: “The problem of sustainability and the historic city: conservation cases in China”, Wuhan University of Technology
  • 15th of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Planning School, Wuhan University.
  • 8th of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Faculty of Spatial Sciences, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.
  • 1st of March, 2013: "Demolition, development or the heritage dividend? Forgetting and remembering the value of our own culture", Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute, Department of Tourism and Scenic Area Planning.

Presentations in 2012

  • 11th of July, 2012: “Balancing commercial and heritagescapes: atmosphere, vitality and sterility in the Longtang’s in Shanghai” - AESOP 26th Annual Congress, Ankara Turkey
  • 5th of July, 2012: ‘Spirituality and Ontological Security in the work of Philip K Dick’; Geographies of Spirituality: Security, Wellbeing and the Extraordinary (1) RGS/IBG, Security of geography/geography of security; Edinburgh University.
  • 19th of June, 2012: ‘Historic Conservation, Nostalgia and China’, Sustaining Creative Economies, 3rd International Culture Trade Forum–Beijing: Newcastle University Business School, NUBS.
  • 13th of February, 2012: Talk on “Discussing Place” to the FINNISH INSTITUTE, Newcastle University.

Teaching

Postgraduate teaching

PhD related teaching

I run the SAPL supplementary theory sessions for PGRS. These sessions include workshops on Critical realism, Marxism, Post-structuralism, Actor-Network Theory, Phenomenology, Non-representational theory etc.

Masters teaching

I contribute to the following masters' courses:

  • TCP8099: Dissertation
  • TCP8902: Reflexive Practitioner
  • TCP7204: Conservation and the City

Undergraduate teaching

I am module leader for the following courses:

  • TCP3054: Planning Theory
  • APL2002: Alternative Practice Field Trip.
  • APL2001: Alternative Practice Theory
  • APL1001: Alternative Practice History

I also contribute to

  • TCP3099: Dissertation
  • TCP2028: Understanding Cities etc
  • TCP1025: Social Worlds
  • TCP1027: Shaping Towns and Cities

Publications