A right to light and a right to darkness?

Robert Shaw (Newcastle University)
Mikkel Bille (Roskilde University)
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Short abstract:

This session explores (in)equalities of access to natural light, artificial light and darkness. It explores how these are changing across differing cultural and geographical contexts, in relation to technological changes and environmental crises.

Long abstract:

Anthropologists and geographers have been among the scholars from multiple disciplines who have turned towards the study of everyday human interactions with natural light, artificial light and darkness. Researchers increasingly conceive of these as relational phenomena, the understanding of which cannot be separated. What has emerged from this research is a contradictory picture of trends of both increasing artificial light in some places, but increasing darkness and lack of access to light in other places. In this session we are interested in exploring how access to both light and darkness is changing across different socio-economic, cultural and political contexts. If there was a 'right to light' or a 'right to darkness', what would they look like and what would they protect? Do they conflict with each other? Are these rights under threat differently in urban and rural areas? How are technological and infrastructural changes, including but not limited to 'smart' technologies, shaping them? How is human access to both light and darkness interfering with non-human access? This session contains both conceptual and empirical explorations of this topic, exploring multiple dimensions of access (or lack of access) to natural light, artificial light or darkness.