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Dr Jackie Jia Lou

Lecturer in Sociolinguistics

BA (Hons) (City University of Hong Kong), MSc and PhD in Linguistics (Georgetown University)

Contact details

Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication

Birkbeck, University of London,

26 Russell Square,




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Research interests

  • My main research interest is concerned with language and the city, especially how languages are used in transnational urban spaces like Chinatown and how such spaces are represented and reconstructed through discourse. This often entails an eclectic research design which integrates sociolinguistic and discourse analysis with social- and geo-semiotic analysis, ethnographic fieldwork, and more recently, mobile video ethnography. Recently, I have also extended this approach to transnational educational spaces in collaboration with language educators. I particularly welcome opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers of shared interests as well as with writers, artists, and community groups. I am also an associate editor of the journal Linguistic Landscapes (John Benjamins).
  • Current research projects include:
    • BAAL Applying Linguistics Grant 2018 – 2019: Increasing the visibility of linguistic diversity in an international school: Children as co-researchers and co-designers of linguistic landscape (in collaboration with Ms. Susan Stewart and Prof. Jean Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck)
    • Birkbeck Research Innovation Fund 2018 – 2019: Navigating the linguistic landscapes of Chinatown: Spatial narrations of urban change
    • #wordswewear: language, mobility and materiality in the semiotic landscape (in collaboration with Prof. Adam Jaworski, the University of Hong Kong)

Areas of Research Supervision

  • Language, space, and place; linguistic and semiotic landscapes; urban discourse; transnational migration; sociolinguistic ethnography.
  • Current PhD students:
    • Fengzhi Zhao: Language, Space, and Cosmopolitan Identity in Contemporary Shanghai
    • Maha El-Farhan: Language Emplacement, Meaning-Making & The Sense of Public Space: An Examination of Activism Signage in Bloomsbury’s Linguistic Landscape
    • Zuzana Rozsypalova: The discursive construction of the City of London: A study on the multimodal representations of urban history


  • I am currently teaching on the following modules:
  • • Language and Society (BA)
  • • Investigating Language (BA)
  • • Introduction to Applied Linguistics (MA)
  • • Empirical Skills Workshop (MA)
  • Before joining Birkbeck, I also taught a variety of classes in sociolinguistics at Queen Mary, University of London (2017), City University of Hong Kong (2009-2016), and Georgetown University (2008-2009).


  • Research Monograph
  • Lou, Jackie Jia. 2016. The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  • Co-edited Volumes
  • Jenks, Christopher, Jackie Jia Lou, and Aditi Bhatia. 2015. The discourse of culture and identity in national and transnational contexts. London: Routledge.
  • King, Kendall, Natalie Schilling-Estes, Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou, and Barbara Soukup, eds. 2008. Sustaining Linguistic Diversity: Endangered and Minority Languages and Language Varieties. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • Edited Special Journal Issues
  • Jenks, Christopher, Aditi Bhatia, and Jackie Jia Lou. 2013. The discourse of culture and identity in national and transnational contexts: A Special Issue of Language and Intercultural Communication.
  • Stockburger, Inge and Jackie Jia Lou, eds. 2010. A Special Issue in Honor of Ron Scollon. eVox: Georgetown Working Papers in Language, Discourse, Society 4 (1).
  • Journal Articles
  • Jaworski, Adam and Jackie Jia Lou. To appear, 2021. #wordswewear: mobile texts, expressive persons, and conviviality in urban spaces. Special issue on “Writing (in) the City’, edited by Jaworski, Adam and Li Wei, in Social Semiotics.
  • Lee, Jerry Won and Lou, Jia Jackie. 2019. The ordinary semiotic landscape of an unordinary place: Spatiotemporal disjuncture’s in Incheon’s Chinatown. International Journal of Multilingualism.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2018. Discussion: the local practice of ‘global Chinese’. Discussion for the special issue on ‘Chinese in the globalising era: Negotiating identities and ideologies,’ edited by Bal Sharma, Global Chinese 4 (1): 89-101.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2017. Spaces of consumption and senses of place: A geosemiotic analysis of three markets in Hong Kong. A special issue in the journal Social Semiotics on ‘Multilingual, multisensory, and multimodal repertoires in corner shops, streets, and markets’ edited by Zhu Hua, Emi Otsuj, and Alastair Pennycook.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2017. Shop sign as monument: the discourse trajectories of a neon sign in Hong Kong. Linguistic Landscapes: An International Journal.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie and Adam Jaworski. 2016 Itineraries of protest signage: Semiotic landscape and the mythologizing of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. Journal of Language and Politics 15: 5. 612 - 645.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2012. Chinatown in Washington, DC: The bilingual landscape. World Englishes.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2010. Chinatown transformed: Ideology, power, and resources in narrative place-making. Discourse Studies 12 (5): 1-23.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2010. How to do discourse analysis: Reflection on Nexus Analysis: Discourse and the Emerging Internet, eVox: Georgetown Working Papers in Language, Discourse, and Society 4 (1), 50-52.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie and Stockburger, Inge. 2010. Dear Ron: Conversations with a Scholar, Teacher, Mentor and Friend, eVox: Georgetown Working Papers in Language, Discourse, and Society 4(1), 3-5.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2007. Revitalizing Chinatown into a heterotopia: A geosemiotic analysis of shop signs in Washington, DC’s Chinatown. Space and Culture 10 (2), 170-194.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2007. The implication of technology for language policy and practice: A case study of Pinyin Romanization in China. eVox: Georgetown Working Papers in Language, Discourse, & Society 1 (1), 16-30.
  • Book Chapters
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. To appear, 2020. The narrative arc of nation branding: staging Shanghai World Expo 2010 in historical events. In Theodoropoulou, Irene and Johanna Tovar (eds, 2020). Language and Country Branding Research Companion. London, Routledge.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2017. Linguistic landscape and ethnographic fieldwork. In Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs, and Gerard Van Herk (eds) Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications (2nd edition). London: Routledge.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2014. Locating the power of place in space: A geosemiotic approach to context. In John Flowerdew (ed) Discourse(s) in Context(s). London: Bloomsbury, pp. 205-223.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2014. The other side of the postcard: Navigating linguistics landscapes in Hong Kong. In Janel Curry and Paul Hanstedt (eds) Reading Hong Kong, Reading Ourselves. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2013. Representing and reconstructing Chinatown: A social semiotic analysis of place names in urban planning policies of Washington, DC. In Celine-Marie Pascale (ed) Inequality and the Politics of Representation: A Global Landscape. London: Sage.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2010. Chinese on the side: The marginalization of Chinese in the linguistic and social landscapes of Chinatown in Washington, DC. In Elana Shohamy, Monica Barni, and Eliezer Ben-Rafael (eds) Linguistic Landscape in the City. Bristol, Buffalo, and Toronto: Multilingual Matters, pp. 96-114.
  • Book Reviews
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2016. Review of Jan Blommaert Ethnography, Superdiversity, and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2013, 114 pp, for the journal Language in Society.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2014. Review of Adam Jaworski and Crispin Thurlow (eds) Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space. London and New York: Continuum, 2010, 321 pp, for the journal Pragmatics & Society.

Recent Conference Presentations and Invited Talks

  • Kitis, Dimitris and Lou, Jia Jackie. 2019. Disentangling gentrification and immigration in media representations of Chinatowns (1988 ~ 2018): A corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis. Paper to be presented at the 16th International Pragmatics Association Annual Conference (IPrA), Hong Kong.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie and Stewart, Susan. 2019. The visibility of multilingualism in an international school: Preliminary findings from a participatory linguistic landscape project. Paper to be presented at the 11th Linguistic Landscape Symposium, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie, Susan Steward, and Jean-Marc Dewaele. 2019. Schoolscapes and multilingual awareness. ECIS Multilingual Learning in International Education Conference, London.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie and Adam Jaworksi. 2018. #wordswewear: language, mobility, and materiality. 10th Linguistic Landscapes Symposium, Bern, Switzerland.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2018. Tracing the discourse trajectories of linguistic landscape: A tale of two Chinatowns. Sociolinguistic Symposium 22, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2018. Walking in two Chinatowns: An auto-ethnographic investigation of transnational semiotic landscapes. Sociolinguistic Symposium 22, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2018. Between repertoires and landscapes: Researching multilingualism on the move. Invited talk. University of Gothenburg.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2017. The interactional rhythm of shopping: A multimodal ethnography of three markets in Hong Kong. Invited talk. Centre for Applied Linguistics, the UCL Institute of Education.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2016. Ways of walking, ways of seeing: Doing mobile video ethnography in linguistic landscape research. Invited colloquium on linguistic landscape analysis and the representation of visual data. American Association for Applied Linguistics, Orlando, Florida.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2016. Discussant for colloquium on Chinese in the globalizing era: Negotiating identities and ideologies. American Association for Applied Linguistics, Orlando, Florida.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie and Jun Wang. 2015. Discourse and urban space: An interdisciplinary dialogue. Roundtable discussion at the 6th Urban Space and Social Life conference, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
  • Lou, Jia Jackie. 2014. The photographer as researcher: Gazing and glancing in Simon Wan’s City-Glow. Conference on the Sociolinguistics of Art, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.