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After Dark: temporal matter in the nighttime city

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date30/03/2016
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2016 - Hilton San Francisco Union Square, San Francisco, United States
Duration: 29/03/20162/04/2016


ConferenceAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2016
Abbreviated titleAAG
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address


Cities are often understood as complex meshes of people, technologies and ‘animated spaces’ (Amin, 2015). However, the atmosphere of cities can change distinctly at night. For in the nocturnal hours identities become slippery, motives less easily defined, and architecture itself may appear far less assured of its role. Structures, rules and regulations that engender ‘tactile sterility’ (Sennett, 1994) in the urban realm quickly break down at night. The city at night may evolve into the ‘terrain vague’ (Levesque, 2002) with places undergoing transformation through conspicuous absence or cultures of darkness. This paper will seek to examine an underrepresented perspective on the nighttime urban landscape, and offer a new dialogue with the city. The processes of change that occur when walking in the city and urban hinterlands at night may be understood as ‘inscriptive practice’ enriched with the potentialities that Bergson (1913) describes. Freed from the spaces of everyday life, the vectors (Gatt, 2013) of nighttime walking enable us to reconnect with the city and give things our undivided attention, which affords the ‘divining’ (De Boeck, 2015) of a different experience of place, providing a welcome respite from the ongoing erosion and subdivision of our time and sense of belonging in the world. This paper will draw on extensive empirical data and personal experience in order to elucidate on the on-going entanglement that occurs at the boundaries of body and urban landscape; day and night; space and materiality.