& theory
Literature &
night (spaces)
Bio: Robert
Further Research

Problematizing the Spatiality of the Night

I envision this page as a gateway to future research projects on night spaces that I will conduct, especially those that intersect with my other scholarly activities. In addition, the page contains a research agenda that might inform inquiries into the spatiality of the night.
— Robert W. Williams, Ph.D.  (Bio

A Research Agenda on Night Spaces
Increasingly and significantly, night in its various spatial dimensions has been studied by scholars in numerous academic disciplines. More of course can be done, especially in terms of comparative, cross-national, and historical research. Because a research agenda is also a type of literature review (and vice versa), I wish to build on previous works that have analyzed the interconnections between the night, darkness, humans, and society. I set forth on this page several sets of thematic questions that can be used to further problematize the night.

A few preliminary notes might prove useful:
The text of General Themes 1 to 4 is essentially a verbatim rendering of the research agenda that I initially published in my "Night Spaces" journal article (Space and Culture, 2008: citation). The outline notation and the references were added to each thematic section. Text enclosed in square brackets indicates that material has been modified or inserted later.
Some aspects of the individual General Themes will overlap. For example: illumination at night might be raised in General Theme 1, but it relates also to the other themes.
I will update this page over time, gradually including various references that are listed on this site's Online-resources page. I also will provide other research themes, such as General Theme Five (below).

1. General Theme One: Night Spaces, Meaning, and Practice
1.1. How are meanings generated from the spatialization of time and the temporalization of space, especially at night? In particular, what are the social codes of conduct at different times and places? How are such social codes officially and unofficially created? For example, how does the distinction between public and private spheres play out in the darkness? The publicness of space often varies by time of day. Who can be where and when will change over a 24-hour time period. Case studies can provide a multitude of information. In early modern Europe, for example, social codes evoked different interpretations for women in the street by time of day. The same spaces elicited a different meaning at night: except for midwives, it was deemed dishonorable for women to travel the streets at night (Ekirch 2005: Ch. 3).
1.2. Inquiries into the spatio-temporalized production of meanings, moreover, can build on research which has examined how illumination in the early 20th Century [and in the early modern era (Koslofsky 2005)] allowed for more social and political activities to be implemented at night (Jakle 2001: Ch. 6). This theme also allows us to ask: nowadays, who can be on the brightly lit streets in the evening and late at night? In the night-time cities of today does a woman walking alone elicit different reactions than a group of women or else a man and woman traveling together? Do class, race, or age differentials affect the expectations of others? For one answer to that question, one needs only to read June Jordan's "Poem about My Rights" (1980).
1.3. References
Ekirch, A. Roger. 2005. At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Jakle, John A. 2001. City Lights: Illuminating the American Night. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Jordan, June. 1980. Passion: New Poems, 1977-1980. Boston: Beacon Press. [(Link)]
[Koslofsky, Craig. 2005. "Experiencing the Night in Rural Early Modern Europe." Paper presented at a Yale University Colloquium on Agrarian Studies, 16 September 2005. (PDF)]

2. General Theme Two: The Reterritorializing Modalities
2.1. How are the reterritorializing modalities of marginalization, exclusion, and channeling expressed in actual situations? Case studies are needed of their operation and contradictions. Many events, celebrations, and festivities can be suggested; three areas for future research will be mentioned here.
2.2. What are the on-going efforts to address the issues raised by the raves and rave subculture in various countries? How have local governments responded to the rave subculture and the spaces created by the all-night celebration of pounding electronic rhythms (e.g., Anonymous 2006)?
2.3. The night-time cruising of city streets in the U.S.A. by young adults in cars has led to city ordinances against cruising, in effect creating night spaces where youths riding in cars — even those on business-related trips — are often viewed with suspicion in some areas of the city (De León 2005; Diedrich 2006; Gofman 2004).
2.4. Other studies can investigate the extent to which the reterritorializing modalities generate or otherwise reinforce patriarchal, capitalist, racist, and hetero-normative relations. For example, the marginalization modality might lead to business activities where the peripheralized population becomes the exotic Others who are "experienced" as entertainment during night-time excursions into the bars located in their community. During the 1920s the Harlem section of New York City provides a well know case (Caldwell 2005: 236-239; D.L. Lewis 1981).
2.5. References
Caldwell, Mark. 2005. New York Night: The Mystique and Its History. NY: Scribner.
Anonymous. 2006. "Plans for new all night raves horrify residents." Herts and Essex Newspapers [Internet], 3 August 2006. Online: <www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/News/Bishops-Stortford/
>. Accessed 31 October 2013.
De León, Celina. 2005. "Wanted: All Cruisers." WireTap [Internet News Service], 10 February 2005. Online: <www.alternet.org/story/21233/>. Accessed 31 October 2013.
Diedrich, John. 2006. "Cruisers' cars may be seized." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 June 2006. Online: <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/
mi_qn4196/is_20060622/ai_n16509136/print>. Accessed 22 October 2006.
Gofman, Steve. 2004. "The End of Cruising." Car and Driver, April. Online: <www.caranddriver.com/features/7886/the-end-of-cruising.html>. Accessed 31 October 2013.
Lewis, David Levering. 1981. When Harlem was in Vogue. NY: Knopf.

3. General Theme Three: Night Spaces and Homogenization
3.1. Are night spaces becoming more homogenized? Do pressures to accelerate production and consumption of goods and services in an increasingly interconnected and competitive world influence cityscapes in similar ways (especially regarding the larger cities and those considered as global cities)? Two sets of related questions come to mind.
3.2. First, are the night spaces of major cities (becoming) more alike in terms of the similarity of their places for the consumption of leisure? For example, what are the results — especially with regard to the night — of socio-economic pressures to revitalize otherwise moribund downtown areas? Are city centers and downtowns coming to resemble one another as regards the types of businesses offering products and services (e.g., via corporate chains and franchises)?
3.3. As a case in point, consider the waterfront areas of cities that provide nightlife, dining, and shopping for both tourists and local citizens. Arguably, the photographic images of these waterfronts in various cities disclose striking resemblances: Vancouver, Shanghai, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Liverpool, Cape Town, and Amsterdam, among others. Despite differences in language, locale, and culture, are our experiences at night structured in similar ways by a comparable set of standardized activities and opportunities (see Enzensberger 1996)? If so, then such comparative studies could provide a counter-balance to rather one-sided marketing materials. Indeed, the much vaunted idea of consumer sovereignty extols individual choice, yet any notable structural similarities in waterfront areas may lead some to assert that our personal choices are less about "creating" our own destinies and more about buying (or "buying into") the world that others, like corporations and governments, have constructed for profit.
3.4. A second facet related to the (possible) homogenization of night spaces can be posed: how do the new security technologies affect human behavior and activities? In our complexly connected world of actual bomb attacks and reported threats of attacks, festivities at night have been increasingly surveilled, such as New's Year's Eve activities in various major world cities (e.g., Associated Press 2004; Cho & McShane 2004; CBS News 2003). Does such intensive surveillance produce normalized behavior — that is, behavior circumscribed in ways that do not ostensibly arouse suspicion?
3.5. References
Associated Press. 2004. "Under tight security, U.S. greets new year." St. Petersburg Times, 1 January 2004. Online: <www.sptimes.com/2004/01/01/Worldandnation/
>. Accessed 31 October 2013.
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. 1996 [1958]. "A Theory of Tourism." Translated by Gert Gemunden and Kenn Johnson. New German Critique, Issue 68 (Spring-Summer).
CBS News. 2003. "Code Orange New Year's Eve." 31 December 2003. Online: <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/31/terror/
main590905.shtml>. Accessed 10 October 2006.
Cho, Alina and Jamie McShane. 2004. "Sensors, helicopters keep eye on Times Square." CNN, 31 December 2004. Online: <www.cnn.com/2004/US/12/31/times.square/index.html>. Accessed 31 October 2013.

4. General Theme Four: Night Spaces and Resistance
4.1. In what ways are some night spaces also Lefebvrian counter-spaces? Are the transgressive practices and their attendant value systems manifested as emancipatory spaces of resistance? How do subcultures conceive and experience space during darkness? For example, "take-back-the-night" marches have been widely documented in various cities (e.g., Dimacje 2004; Reclaim the Night n.d.). Further inquiries might examine the extent to which de Certeau's concept of city walking (1984) applies to the dynamics of such events. As they travel the same streets as the perpetrators of past crimes, the marchers protest violence against women in general and the insecurity of women at night in particular.
4.2. Of course, not all marches at night are subversive of the established social relations. Some are designed to fight other battles and are not intended to create new, socially liberatory spaces at night. For example, "Light the Night Walks" have become a way for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to both raise money and promote awareness of the diseases (see the Web site at <www.lightthenight.org>). Despite that major difference, what similarities and dissimilarities exist between such night-time activities as "Take back the Night" marches and "Light the Night" walks?
4.3. Another dimension of the fourth research theme centers on the potential difficulties involved in organizing resistance at night. Are specialized techniques or procedures necessary? Which transgressive or liberatory uses of the night arise more or less spontaneously and which ones require more planning? While organized marches are typically planned, other actions can occur in response to the situation at hand. For example, the so-called Stonewall Riots took place in 1969 as an unplanned response to New York City police efforts to target gays and lesbians in the Greenwich Village section of the city. In what ways might resistance be hindered or otherwise influenced by any requisite planning?
4.4. References
de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dimacje, Rochelle. 2003. "Women 'Take Back the Night'." Daily Targum [Rutgers University Student Newspaper], 11 April 2003. Online: <http://www.dailytargum.com/home/index.cfm?event=
f3d91fde72ef>. Accessed 22 October 2006.
Reclaim the Night. N.D. "Herstory of Reclaim the Night." Online: <http://www.isis.aust.com/rtn/herstory.htm>. Accessed 22 October 2006.

5. General Theme Five: Darkness-Dependent Night Recreation
5.1. The idea of the darkness of night being a positive good leads to human activities intended to benefit both the human psyche and the night-time economy. Large-scale illumination in those cases is not desired, but rather is to be avoided or at least minimized. How have such uses of the darkness been promoted by the public and/or private sectors? Has opposition arisen from public institutions and/or private organizations over attempts to limit lighting at night (i.e., to mitigate light pollution)?
5.2. For example, dark skies tourism involves locating areas of little or no light pollution so as to be better able to watch the heavens at night. Star gazing and constellation spotting are the goals. Smith & Hallo (2012-13) and Rovelstad et al. (2012) examine this practice and policy in relation to U.S. National Parks.
5.3. References
Rovelstad, Ellen, Robert Manning, Jeffrey Hallo, & Brandi Smith. 2012. "From Landscapes to Lightscapes: The Importance of Darkness and the Night Sky to National Park Visitors." Presented at Acadia National Park Science Symposium 2012, 23 Oct 2012. Poster presentation online: <http://cdn.f1000.com/posters/docs/251659894>. (Textual summary of poster). Accessed 1 November 2013.
Smith, Brandi L. & Jeffrey C. Hallo. 2012-2013. "A System-wide Assessment of Night Resources and Night Recreation in the U.S. National Parks: A Case for Expanded Definitions." Park Science, 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2012–2013). Online: <www.nature.nps.gov/Parkscience/index.cfm?ArticleID=591>. Accessed 1 November 2013.

www.robertwilliams.org/ns/nsfurther.html Rev. 11-9-13