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More-than-human Nights: Intersecting lived experience and diurnal rhythms in the nocturnal city

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The contemporary nocturnal city is characterised by the interplay of luminosity and darkness, a
chiaroscuro tableau inhabited by a myriad of flora and fauna—including, of course, humans. What
patterns, rhythms, and indeed disturbances can be detected in this patchwork, i.e. how do humans,
non-humans, and wider natural cycles and rhythms co-produce the nocturnal urban environment? How
is this coexistence of light and darkness inhabited by these multiple species? In short, how is the night
moved through, and how does it move through us and our non-human companions?
This paper is sited at the intersection of two perspectives on the urban night—first, lived experience
and the affective dimension of the nocturnal city; and second, the wider rhythms of the city and the sky
above that inscribe themselves into us and our companions. It asks how we, as researchers, can be
attentive to the urban night so as to bring these two perspectives together. To do this, we will discuss
two methods that the authors have used to inhabit and describe the urban night—one a perambulatory
autoethnography of urban edgelands described through text and photography, the other an
ethnography of urban temporality using photographic and sonic field recording techniques.
Together, the authors’ different approaches pay close attention to both the human and non-human
dimensions of the environment. We examine the diversity of nocturnal atmospheres, ambiances, and
soundscapes to better understand their meanings and uses. Furthermore, we do this in a way that is
attentive to the various spatial and temporal scales of darkness and light—from the palpable immediacy
of lived experience or the daily tides of rush hour traffic to the changing phases of the moon or the
activities of migrating birds or foraging beetles. By bringing these methods together, our aim is to
contribute to a toolkit for situated fieldwork that can be used to create a rich description of the nocturnal
urban environment—particularly one that includes but does not privilege the human. Furthermore, the
work aims to make such descriptions legible and accessible within and beyond academia.

Event (Conference)

TitleInternational Conference on Night Studies
Abbreviated titleICNS
LocationCentre for Research and Studies in Sociology, Lisbon University Institute
Degree of recognitionInternational event