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Urban Instincts: improvisation in the nocturnal city

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

Publication date5/04/2017
Number of pages4
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2017 - Hynes Convention Center, Boston, United States
Duration: 5/04/20179/04/2017


ConferenceAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2017
Abbreviated titleAAG
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


The nocturnal city may be understood as a place and time wherein escape from the measures and restrictions of the daytime is possible. More specifically, it is a state of being, wherein improvisation as a tactic to the urban environment and for its appropriation is vital. To go nightwalking is a decisive act that is constantly in negotiation with the city and its contingent and fleeting features. Attempts to organise and control the nighttime city concern multiple actors in order to strongly encourage us to 'conform' (Edensor, 2013) in the urban landscape. Yet gestures of refusal against the banality, structures, rules and regulations that encompass the contemporary urban realm and lead to its 'tactile sterility' (Sennett, 1994) may be found in various spatial practices including nightwalking. Indeed the improvisational methods required when confronted with uncanny or unfamiliar places, encounters and behaviours necessarily raise issues of how to document such experiences on the move. This has led to experimentation with various methods of mapmaking and recording including: creative nonfiction, notations, photographs and sketches in an attempt to capture the itinerant and elusive nature of nightwalking. Combining both improvisational performance and creative endeavour, this paper will draw on extensive empirical data and personal experience in order to elucidate on the ongoing entanglement that occurs at the boundaries of body and urban landscape; day and night; space and materiality. Nightwalking is thus positioned as an improvisational strategy of coping with the pressures and confines of the daylight hours, its roles and responsibilities.