City nights: migration and cultural encounters

International conference hosted by Leiden University, the Netherlands

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 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.

We invite contributors from a wide range of disciplines (including cultural studies, anthropology, urban design, sociology, film, literary and music studies etc.) to reflect on the dynamic relationship between urban spaces, culture and migration in night-time settings. These can be material settings, imaginary or virtual. Papers can focus on European settings or Europe in comparative perspective.

We aim to address the following questions:

  • How are identities constructed and a sense of belonging created and/or expressed through culture in night spaces?
  • Which public spaces are key to migrant communities night-time experiences and why?
  • How do cultural expressions and/or storytelling at night or on the night (including film, literature, music, performance, architecture, and policy) open up new spaces of meaningful integration through intercultural exchange and worlding in Europe’s cities?
  • How is culture produced in night-time public spaces used to cope with or challenge prejudices, build bridges and/or foster new community dynamics within and across migrant groups and extending from them?

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or full panels of maximum 4 speakers. It is also possible to submit a poster or a 5-minute audio-visual clip in mp4-format on your research. We also invite artistic expressions of night cultures.

To submit please send an attachment with: title, abstract of max 200 words, and a short bio-sketch of 100 words max + email address for each presenter to: by 31 January 2022. In the case of panel proposals, please include a 100-word abstract for the overall panel, name of chair/presenters, as well as abstracts for the individual papers.

We expect to confirm acceptance by 15 February 2022.

Attendance fee: €120euros. This will cover coffee breaks/2 lunches/conference dinner.

€100euros for PhDs/MAs/BAs

Cite this blog post
Manuel Garcia-Ruiz (2022, January 14). City nights: migration and cultural encounters. International Night Studies Network. Retrieved April 16, 2024, from

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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