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2nd International Conference on Night Studies

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience


Nocturnal Urban Natures: Multispecies Encounters in the Pandemic City After Dark

The coronavirus pandemic has manifest itself spatially in various ways through forms of lockdown, restriction, and curfew. This has significantly disrupted the activities and rhythms within many urban places after dark, especially in relation to the night-time economy. In the UK, this has meant cities at night have temporarily become the preserve of designated key workers, with a degree of this labour operating precariously. Frequently exhausted and overworked, these workers have sought to find restoration and recuperation in spaces of the nocturnal city that pre-pandemic would not provide such respite. By contrast, sites of urban nature which were previously occupied by individuals and groups after dark, each with different, sometimes competing, interests upon the demarcation and use of these places are noticeably devoid of human activity. Access to green space, meanwhile, has been a prominent feature of stories concerning health and wellbeing during lockdown yet this has nearly always been framed as a daytime activity. This paper, therefore, examines the appropriation of spaces in the nocturnal city for those undertaking nightwork while simultaneously investigating temporarily abandoned sites of urban nature to understand their character when their usual human occupants are absent. Drawing on a series of nightwalks across the city of Manchester, UK, to illustrate the entanglements between light and dark, work and respite, presence and absence, humans and non-humans, this paper considers how urban places change when dynamics of human movement and occupation are profoundly altered. In doing so, it explores alternative futures for the city and urban nature after dark by giving expression to how we might engage with multispecies places at night to present a preview of the post-pandemic nocturnal city as a landscape that is in a process of becoming.

Event (Conference)

Title2nd International Conference on Night Studies
Abbreviated titleICNS 2
LocationISCTE, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
Degree of recognitionInternational event