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Location:David Hume Tower
RICHARD WILLIAMS has researched and written about the contemporary city since the early 2000s, with particular interests in urban regeneration, the place of culture in the city, and the legacy of modernism in urban design. His work has wide geographical range: he has written extensively about contemporary Brazil as well as is work on cities in the contemporary UK and USA. His work draws heavily on recent Anglo-American sociology (for example Sharon Zukin, Richard Sennett, David Harvey, Zygmunt Bauman, Manuel Castells) but his work departs for theirs in its strongly visual emphasis. Paying close attention to the visual representation of cities - in architecture, urban design, film and other media - it explores the tensions between the prevalent theories of urban life and the lived experience of the city. Richard's work also draws extensively on psychological and psychoanalytical theories. His most recent book, SEX AND BUILDINGS: MODERN ARCHITECTURE AND THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (Reaktion Books, 2013) explores all of these phenomena in an exploration of the way developing theories of sex and sexual morality have conditioned building.
Earlier works include THE ANXIOUS CITY (2004) which used classic psychoanalytic theory to frame an argument about Britain's uneasy attitude to urban development in modern times; and BRAZIL: MODERN ARCHITECTURES IN HISTORY (2009) a unique account of Brazil's architectural modernisation in terms of indigenous social, political and cultural ideas. He is also the author of AFTER MODERN SCULPTURE (2000), an exploration of New York's extraordinary art scene at the end of the 1960s.
He initiated and chaired the University/British Council joint interdisciplinary symposium Sustainability and the City in 2012, and he currently leads an interdisciplinary group at the University exploring urban citizenship in a recessionary Europe.
He is currently returning to some of the themes raised in THE ANXIOUS CITY: based on the most recent experience of culture-led regeneration in the UK and the USA, he is planning a major critical history of the notion of 'creativity' and the city. Richard has published very widely on many urban and design themes. He contributes regularly to a range of high profile journals, including Foreign Policy. For a recent - and controversial - piece, see: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/02/13/scotch_this_plan_edinburgh_scotland_independence
Beyond research, Richard has been exceptionally active in developing the University's postgraduate provision since 2002, serving until very recently as the Dean of Postgraduate Studies for the College of Humanities and Social Science. Outside of the University, Richard is (amongst other things) an enthusiastic and widely-published photographer. His exhibition UNITED STATES took place at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh in 2012.
Richard's Phd students have worked on topics from Constant's theories of urbanism, to the urban implications of the digital museum, to the history of street furniture in postwar Britain. He welcomes students wishing to explore any aspects of either the visual representation, or lived experience of the contemporary city.
CITY - CONTEMPORARY - CULTURAL POLITICS - SEXUALITY - SPACE
* Sex and Buildings, a book for Reaktion, with publication due in May 2013. Topics include concepts of sexuality in Californian modernism, and the maverick psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich as architect.
* Order and disorder in Urban Space and Form, with Paul Jenkins of ECA. Routledge will publish this in 2014.
I am currently supervising 5 doctoral students.
This article was published on Oct 30, 2012