Call for Papers: Cities by Night
Submission deadline: 31 January 2024
Editors: Taylor Stone (University of Bonn) & Marian Counihan (University of Groningen)
The Philosophy of the City Journal is published bi-annually and will alternate between an open issue (autumn) and a thematic issue (spring-summer) that narrows in on a specific question or topic. The first thematic issue, to be published in summer 2024, will focus on cities by night.
What is a philosophy of the city of – and for – the night?
Paris is known as the ‘city of light’; New York has been nicknamed ‘the city that never sleeps’. These monikers hint at how nighttime is integrally connected to our understanding of cities. Yet this connection has been under-researched and under-theorised. This has begun to change in recent years, as urban nights have emerged as a topic of investigation from a variety of disciplinary perspectives- leading to calls for ‘night studies’ to become its own interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Despite the clear relevance of urban nights for a range of subfields in philosophy (e.g., political philosophy, feminist philosophy, environmental ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of technology), and the rising interest in adjacent fields, philosophers have as yet had relatively little to say about cities by night. We aim to change this. This thematic issue will explore what philosophy of the city can offer to the nascent field of night studies, and vice versa.
What happens under cover of darkness? The city by night is a site of complex- and at times conflicting-meanings, variously associated with vibrancy, glamour, experimentation, transgression, liberation, respite, danger, violence, alienation, contemplation, and more. What happens in the nighttime city has been a central topic of concern for urban scholars such as Walter Benjamin, George Simmel, and Louis Wirth, and the urban night has more recently been theorised as a frontier, as a place of fear, and a playground. Conversely, cities have materially changed the night. Urban infrastructures, including lighting, transport networks, and security technologies, have effectively pulled back the cover of darkness, and done so heterogeneously and with a variety of far-reaching ecological, ethical, and social consequences. For instance, the proliferation of artificial lighting has had a massive impact on nocturnal ecologies. Nighttime economies, including shift work, have loosened the connection between biological, social, and economic rhythms, and have been argued to exacerbate existing economic and social inequalities.
We invite contributions to the thematic issue that advance our ontological, epistemic, aesthetic, ethical, political, historical, or technological understanding of cities by night. Papers may either focus on generalised and overarching questions regarding the meanings and impacts of urban nights, narrow in on the ethics and politics of particular facets of cities by night, or offer in-depth case studies of specific places, events, or developments. We welcome philosophical submissions on topics including (but not limited to):
- Night studies’ theoretical frameworks and methodologies
- Meanings, imaginaries, and experiences of (urban) darkness
- Aesthetics of urban nightscapes; portrayal of urban nights in art and media
- Personhood and identity in nighttime spaces and (sub-)cultures
- Sociality and economy of urban nights (e.g., nightlife, nighttime economies, nightshift workers)
- Contestations over public spaces at night (e.g., access, policing, surveillance)
- Practices of maintenance and repair in cities at night
- Theory, ethics, and politics of lighting infrastructures and light pollution
- Nocturnal ecologies and human-nature relations
- Utopic and/or dystopic visions of urban nighttime futures
Aligned with the journal’s mission and scope, we welcome submissions from scholars in different philosophical traditions, as well as those working in transdisciplinary spaces or adjacent fields (e.g., urban geography, architecture and design, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies) who engage with the philosophical dimensions of their work.
Prospective authors are welcome to share their ideas or questions about the issue with the issue editors by contacting Taylor Stone (taylor.stone @ uni-bonn.de).