Africa's Nocturnal Cities 
Beth Vale (University of the Witwatersrand)
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Muriel Champy (Aix-Marseille Université)
Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Dominated by geographies of the everyday, Urban Studies has often overlooked what happens when night falls. What are the spatial tactics, labours, and insurgencies of urban actors after dark? In response to dominant diurnal thinking, this panel will explore everynight life in Africa's cities.

Long Abstract

Dominated by geographies of everyday life, Urban Studies has often overlooked what happens when night falls. Surprisingly little consideration has been given to the everynight city: the spatial tactics, labours, and creative insurgencies of urban actors after dark. There is growing acknowledgement that human geography and sociology suffers from nyctalopia: night blindness. This is especially true with respect to urban Africa. In response to a field dominated by diurnal thinking, this panel will seek to understand quotidian nightlife in Africa's cities.

Nocturnal cities have their own geography and citizenry. Night is not simply a darker version of day. Instead, night-time is associated with its own nodes and rhythms, audiences and workers. Darkness presents possibilities for anonymity, transgression and abandon in the city, at the same time as it connotes inaccessibility and surveillance. The night can be a place of terror and shadow, as well as of glistening illumination, with all the associations of developmental modernity and consumptive excess.

Drawing together scholars from across disciplines, the panel will elucidate key questions surrounding Africa's nocturnal cities. How are night cities produced, experienced, used, and controlled in different settings across the continent? How might we understand day-night shifts in the ways that urban spaces, socialities and subjectivities are organised? What methodological and theoretical challenges underpin social studies' neglect of the night? Papers will be considered from those working in night-time economies; nocturnal regulation; experiences and meanings of urban darkness; influences of the rural night, as well as everynight practices of work and play.

Accepted papers: