Andrew Stokols

Doctoral Candidate

Andrew’s research interests bridge political economy, history, urban design, and science and technology studies. Having lived in China, Singapore, and South Korea, he became interested in how historical legacies of state-led industrialization shape current approaches to urbanization and development in the region. Today, the frontier of economic development has shifted from industrial to digital technologies, and increasingly data. While cities have always been sites of innovation, there is a pivot to urban development itself as an incubator for new services and systems, typified by “smart city” projects. In countries where the state plays a dominant role in the economy, there is even tighter coordination between urban design and infrastructures of data extraction. New cities or urban districts are marketed as sandboxes or platforms for foreign investment, and the daily activities of urban residents, such as consumption habits, generates the data as “raw material” for innovation. Andrew's work aims to understand  how strategies for economic and urban development are transforming in different national contexts, shaped by unique institutional legacies, history and cultures, and national political and ideological goals.

Andrew is also interested in understanding how individuals can shape the urban environment amidst these seemingly inextricable forces of technology and state power. One way he has explored this is through study of social movements, documenting how protesters use of encrypted messaging platforms to coordinate guerilla protests, often in quotidian spaces such as malls and subways. More generally, his work seeks to engage how citizens can create culture and carve out autonomous spaces amidst this “overprogramming” of the city.​

 Before beginning the Phd, Andrew worked for Future Cities Lab in Singapore, where he helped connect urban researchers to companies and city governments in Southeast Asia looking to bring new technologies into their spatial planning practices. He has also worked for the World Resources Institute in Washington D.C, a small heritage preservation nonprofit in Beijing, and was a 2012 Fulbright Fellow based at Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology, where he investigated the relocation of millions of rural residents into new housing across China’s countryside.

Andrew received a Masters in Urban Planning from Harvard GSD, where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for best urban planning thesis for “Reform: Towards Human Scale Urbanism in Chinese cities”, which applied urban network analysis to generate design interventions aimed at improving the walkability and accessibility of superblock neighborhoods. At the GSD he was also part of Neil Brenner’s Urban Theory Lab, where he investigated the impact of “China’s One Belt One Road” on “planetary urbanization” in Central Asia. Andrew earned a Bachelors in Urban Studies and History at U.C. Berkeley.