Night Studies is a transdisciplinary field with works from different social and human sciences. The research covers a wide range of topics related to the so-called ‘Nocturnal World(s)’, including a good number of geographical, cultural, and social contexts; formal and informal practices; and normative and non-normative behaviours. In recent years the study of the night, either as an object of study or as context, has grown exponentially. It would not be risky to affirm that, we are witnessing the emergence of a ‘Golden Age’ for Night Studies.
Over the past year, the interplay between economic, social, and (bio)political forces have produced (are producing, and will produce) profound changes in the Nocturnal City. Many businesses have closed their doors during these last months of confinement, and new businesses have taken their places, taking advantage of the gaps left by their predecessors. The streets at night have a different flavour, a strange atmosphere, other music, physical and emotional voids interpellate us while we are forced to move forward towards new, biopolitically controlled ways of socializing. However, not all of these places have been occupied, leaving behind the range of collective and individual memories of what they once were.
The reopening with new businesses brings a renewal of the cultural, gastronomic, sports and leisure offer, underlining the night’s cultural, economic, and social value. New formulas and new products are offered to the public, reinventing the night or updating to new times. New restaurants, new groups of runners, new boxing matches, or new stand-up bars pop up all over, both in the Great North and in the Great South. A new gentrification of the night seems to break through the ruins of the previous city. But in turn, all of this also poses new challenges for the governmentality of the nocturnal city under the current pandemic and climate emergency scenario.
At the same time that the nocturnal city awakens, social inequalities, patriarchal, homo- and transphobic violence seem to arise in both public and private nocturnal spaces, and the occupation of the city seems to be unevenly divided. Meanwhile, new leisure areas seem to consolidate, putting the question back on the center/ periphery debate. Youngsters, migrants, and minorities gather at new public spaces at night, redrawing the map of nocturnal informal leisure.
Cultural festivals, such as light festivals or street theater events, are timidly coming back, although occupying new spaces such as gardens or zoos. Other cultural forms are, once again, receiving viewers, although with strict controls. Innovative proposals such as the possibility of reserving an entire movie theatre for relatively affordable prices come to play as a possibility. Music festivals, meanwhile, reappear with greater controls than ever. In parallel, raves and other non-licensed parties at night emerge elsewhere across our geographies as visible expression of the necessity of social interaction among peers as well as of the wish of evasion amidst an everyday life highly featured by repression, oppression, and criminalization of ‘the otherness’.
The (night) governance of the city faces a constant uncertainty as new variants of COVID-19 may spread at any time. It has to reinvent itself and find new effective ways of management. New bridges between local communities, private sector and authorities seems to come up. But realistic, reliable data and good indicators are still on the agenda.
The 3rd International Conference on Night Studies was an international event that aimed to echo frontier research, artistic works and professional practices related to the study of the urban night in multiple contexts worldwide.
This event aimed to be a platform for sharing ongoing or recent research, open a critical and interdisciplinary debate, and boost e-networking, bringing together academia and society.
ICNS was a collaborative effort of the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-Iscte), the Interdisciplinary Center of Social Sciences at NOVA University Lisbon (CICS.NOVA), the Institute of Sociology – University of Porto (ISUP), the International Night Studies Network (INSN) and the LXNIGHTS Research Group.