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City Nights: Migration and cultural encounters

Main Organiser

Leiden University, the Netherlands

19 May 2022 - 20 May 2022

Leiden University, Rapenburg, Leiden, Netherlands


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This conference explores the diverse ways in which the city after dark is imagined, experienced, practised, and how these experiences are variously expressed in arts and cultural production. The conference will focus on the nocturnal city as an often overlooked dimension of urban life in order to understand how different urban spaces, public or semi-public, are experienced by diverse local communities ‘after hours’ and their significance for the building of a sense of belonging and intercultural understanding.

This is the third international conference of the European collaborative project Night Spaces: migration, culture and integration in Europe (NITE), funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) (2019-22). The project contends that urban spaces at night are shaped by different social practices in relation to the day and that they offer important opportunities for socio-cultural expression and public life more broadly, especially for otherwise vulnerable minorities. Following from our previous conferences in London and Berlin, the 2022 Leiden conference will provide further opportunities to investigate the relationship between ‘night spaces’ and migration.

Our research centres on nocturnal public spaces as sites of belonging and intercultural exchange, acknowledging the ‘worlding’ (Roy and Ong 2011) of European cities. NITE considers how migrants’ experiences in public spaces at night and the stories that emerge from them can productively inform current and future debates, policies and practices, contending that important lessons can be drawn from everyday socio-cultural interactions in the night. Indeed, following Williams (2008) night spaces are understood as being culturally mediated and socially produced. They are informed by the multifarious human responses to the fall of darkness, from the fear it inspires and the desire to control it, to the wish to embrace its allure as potentially liberating and empowering.

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