Berlin conference, Augmented Cities – Where did the night go?

21-23 April 2021

The Berlin Institute for Migration and Integration Studies and the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt University invite paper proposals for our upcoming conference Augmented Cities – Where did the night go? The conference focuses on technology, labour and the transformation of the urban night in digital times.

New technologies and business models are increasingly blurring binary frontiers between day-time and night-time. Digital technology fundamentally transforms the city and thus our urban public space. It also enables a fundamental transformation of the urban night through the expansion of technological infrastructures and the growing ubiquity of platform-based services. As a result, we are living with highly networked infrastructures, in augmented cities. In many urban centres throughout Europe, this transition entails dramatic implications for the convergence of digital infrastructures with physical space and temporal adaptations. 

The ongoing extension of daytime activities into the urban night and the 24/7 city, have been widely discussed. Well-known drivers of this extension of the day into the night are to be found in the flexibilization of working hours, outsourcing across time zones, and the expansion of street lighting, night traffic, nightlife, and, of course, the service sector. The effects of the internet and the use of numerous terminal devices for urban nightlife are proving to be disruptive. Here, understanding the ‘digital shift’ is of vital importance if we want to understand the blurring between day and night.

Cities are becoming brighter and brighter thanks to computer-aided LED lighting systems. ICT-Service labour is often outsourced across the globe, which is leading to a re-territorialization of temporalities and global inequalities of labour and time. Concrete digital infrastructures enable workers to extend their work activities into the night-time urban space. At the same time, platforms are emerging that expand consumption possibilities at night and people increasingly ask for services that other people have to work for at night. Thus, a new spatial configuration of the usage of the night is emerging. Online platforms react to the progressive flexibilization of work. They close gaps in supply, as they make the most diverse basic human needs conveniently accessible 24/7, organized with the help of algorithms. 

In depicting these transformations driven by digital media it is often overlooked that this is not a technologically determined, purely machine-driven process. Rather, the maintenance of these infrastructures requires constant human labour. These technologically augmented cities, often referred to as “smart cities”, create huge demand for labour, which also shapes the city at night. Migrant workers are often the backbone of this digitalized infrastructure. In tribute to one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop culture, Gil-Scot Heron, and his outstanding song, we would like to reiterate the question “Where did the night go?” under conditions of digital and pandemic times. In our conference, we aim to bring perspectives on technology, labour and urban space in dialogue with considerations on the loss of the night and the conditions of migrant labour, as the often “obscured side” of our new bright city nights. 

Augmented Cities – Where did the night go? is the second conference linked to a three-year transdisciplinary research projectexploring nocturnal publics in eight cities in the Netherlands, Ireland, UK, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. The conference will take place from 21th – 23rd April 2021 at Humboldt University in Berlin. For now, we assume that most of the lectures will be held online, due to Coronavirus restrictions.

In order to accommodate the maximum number of presenters, presentations should be kept to maximum of 20 minutes. Proposalswill be reviewed by the NITE research team. Proposals related to cities in the countries named above will be prioritized.

This event aims to be a platform for sharing ongoing or recent research, in order to open a critical and interdisciplinary debate, and boost networking, bringing together academia and society.

Themes might include, but are not limited to:

·  Urban development and the 24h city

·  Platform labour and digital night workers

·  Light pollution, expansion of digital nocturnal infrastructures

·  Sleep patterns and use of technology (measured sleep, sleep tracking)

·  Global inequalities of time / space

· Transformations of nocturnal spaces through digitalization

· Nocturnal use of Social Media 

· Cultural expressions and narratives of the night/24h city 

· Digital extensions of night-time venues

We invite paper and poster submissions, and other formats (e.g. art practice and documentation, graphic and design practice). 

SUBMISSION 

Proposed papers should include: 

  • –  abstract (max. 300 words) 
  • –  biographical note (continuous text, max. 200 words) 
  • –  full address und e-mail address 

The abstract of the suggested paper should contain a separate paragraph explaining how and (if applicable) to which element(s) or question(s) of the Call for Papers the submitted paper refers. The short CV should give information on the applicant’s contributions to the field and specify (if applicable) relevant publications. For the purpose of information, applicants are invited to attach a copy of one of these publications to their application. 

Proposals to be addressed to Manuela Bojadžijev and Laura-Solmaz Litschel:  

augmented-cities@mailbox.org and laura-solmaz.litschel@hu-berlin.de

            TIME SCHEDULE 

Submission of proposals: by 20th January 2021

Notification of acceptance: 31st January 2021

PREPARATORY GROUP 

Manuela Bojadžijev, Humboldt University Berlin
Laura-Solmaz Litschel, Humboldt University Berlin

Jola Zych, TU Berlin

            Further information:  https://www.nightspace.net/


Manuel Garcia-Ruiz

He is a PhD Scholar at CIES-Iscte and a Research Collaborator at IS-FLUP. He research on topics such as city branding, cultural regeneration, the commodification of arts and culture, art washing, and the construction of artistic fields.

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