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EAUH Conference 2018


Session ZSS108 - Nightstudies: The Night in the XIXth Century Peripheral Europe

Coordinators: Sotirios Dimitriadis (, Rosa Fina (

Read Session abstractIn recent years, scholars in the humanities and social sciences have taken up the systematic study of the night and its impact on urban and rural lives since the early modern period. The groundbreaking work of historians such as Roger Ekirch (2005), Alain Cabantous (2009), or Craig Koslofsky (2011) has highlighted the symbolic significance and practical implications of the interplay between light and darkness. Interdisciplinary studies have focused on the evolution of artificial lighting (Schievelbusch, 1995); the social and political behavior of night-dwellers (Brian D. Palmer, 2000); or the literary and cultural study of the dark (Elisabeth Bronfen, 2008; Soupel, Cope and Pettit, 2010). Similar preoccupations have informed the work of sociologists, geographers and anthropologists studying contemporary urban spaces. Collective and international projects such as SafeIN, LxNights, SmartNights etc and scholars like Paul Bogard (2008) have traced the connections between nightlife and security, addiction and pollution; explored the turistification and studentization of the night in Barcelona and Lisbon; and warned about the dangers inherent in the erasure of the contrast between night and day for contemporary urban living.
Our panel proposes to take up the study of the night in the European periphery during the long nineteenth century. Similar to the core countries of the continent, imposing order upon darkness and the night has long been a priority for regimes from Portugal to Russia, and the introduction of forms of public lighting represented one of the first major intervention in cityscapes. As such, we contend that discourses on light and on darkness, and practices of illuminating the night developed exactly at the crux between the industrious and the industrial revolution. For the purpose of our panel, we welcome methodologically diverse interventions on these subjects. We are interested in how the respective discourses evolve between high enlightenment and early modernity. This then can be linked to the perception of the night and darkness, and how they evolve during the period in question, together with discourses on morality, vice, and crime, and with practices of public and domestic life. We would also like to hear about the development of lighting technologies and the emergence of public lighting as a public amenity, within the context of the political economy and “fetishization” of projects of urban infrastructure.
Keywords: nightlife; darkness; artificial lighting; cityscapes; transgression;