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Night as Fragmenting Frontier: Understanding the Night that Remains in an era of 24/7

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Shaw

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Abstract

Social scientists have previously understood the night through a frontier metaphor. This has pitched night as an empty or lightly-inhabited space into which the urban, capitalist day has been expanding. The contemporary increase in nocturnal research has complicated this picture, showing an increasing multiplicity of complexly lived, structured and experienced nights across the globe. This paper looks to retrieve the concept of night as frontier by drawing on postcolonial theories to generate a more subtle conceptualisation of ‘frontier’, whilst also arguing that recent research reveals that this frontier is now fragmenting. As nocturnal social science starts to mature, a more critical eye needs to paid to the complexity of shifting power relations and identities within these complex urban nights, noting that as the night increasingly becomes subject to governance, so traditional modes of resistance or spaces outside of power will start to shrink.Social scientists have previously understood the night through a frontier metaphor. This has pitched night as an empty or lightly-inhabited space into which the urban, capitalist day has been expanding. The contemporary increase in nocturnal research has complicated this picture, showing an increasing multiplicity of complexly lived, structured and experienced nights across the globe. This paper looks to retrieve the concept of night as frontier by drawing on postcolonial theories to generate a more subtle conceptualisation of ‘frontier’, whilst also arguing that recent research reveals that this frontier is now fragmenting. As nocturnal social science starts to mature, a more critical eye needs to paid to the complexity of shifting power relations and identities within these complex urban nights, noting that as the night increasingly becomes subject to governance, so traditional modes of resistance or spaces outside of power will start to shrink.Social scientists have previously understood the night through a frontier metaphor. This has pitched nightas an empty or lightly inhabited space into which the urban, capitalist day has been expanding. The con-temporary increase in nocturnal research has complicated this picture, showing an increasing multiplicityof complexly lived, structured and experienced nights across the globe. This paper looks to retrieve theconcept of night as frontier by drawing on postcolonial theories to generate a more subtle conceptualisa-tion of ‘frontier’, while also arguing that recent research reveals that this frontier is now fragmenting. Byexploring research into a series of core themes – artificial light at night and darkness; night-lives; andglobal nights – I then explore what such an understanding of night allows us to say about current research.As nocturnal social science continues to mature, a more critical eye will need to be paid to the complexityof shifting power relations and identities within this fragmenting nocturnal frontier.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Shaw Robert

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geography Compass

Year: 2016

Volume: 9

Issue: 12

Pages: 637-647

Print publication date: 01/12/2015

Online publication date: 23/12/2015

Acceptance date: 03/11/2015

Date deposited: 19/02/2016

ISSN (electronic): 1749-8198

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gec3.12250

DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12250


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