For several years, I have been studying the night and its relevance from a policy and a spatial perspective. This section summarizes my contributions (some published, some still works in progress) to the fascinating field that I like to call "Night Studies."
In 2008, along with sociologist Gerardo Gonzalez, I embarked on an exploratory journey: the study of the night as a notion of time and space, but more importantly, as policy space that can be governed and regulated like any other. My goal is to contribute to the existing literature on the night--which is predominantly from the United Kingdom and Europe--and to pave the way for 24-hour cities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
THE NIGHTTIME MOVEMENT IN ASUNCION'S HISTORIC CITY CENTER: A CATALYST FOR URBAN REVITALIZATION
The night is a highly regulated space that is often overlooked in urban studies. A reductionist approach links the nocturnal to partying and transgressive social behavior, and has prevented many cities from exploring this time frame. By analyzing the recent process of revitalization that is taking place in the Historic City Center of Asunción (CHA in Spanish), this article hopes to demonstrate the potential of nightlife as a platform to enhance public safety, support economic development, and promote social inclusion in cities throughout Latin America.
Article coauthored with Rob Watson and Vladimir Velázquez Moreira and published in the Spring 2017 issue of Harvard Kennedy School's Latin America Policy Journal, available here.
DESIGNING FOR DARKNESS: WHAT CAN LATIN AMERICAN CITIES LEARN FROM THE ARABIAN PENINSULA?
Last weekend I attended a fascinating conference organized by the Graduate School of Design and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, titled “After Dark: Nocturnal Landscapes and Public Spaces in the Arabian Peninsula.” This was a unique opportunity to meet architects, designers, artists, and academics who share my passion for the night and its enormous potential from an urban development perspective.
It is interesting to see that—no matter their size or location—cities are constantly struggling to accommodate different uses (and users) and to ease existing tensions between them. For instance, while some hope the growth of residential developments in city centers will help address housing shortages, others believe it will pose a threat to nightlife venues and public spaces located in these areas, as it means they will have to abide by new noise and licensing regulations. The underlying problem is simple, and responds to an aspect that has been long overlooked by planners and designers: most cities weren’t designed for darkness.
Despite their many demographic, economic, and cultural differences, nocturnal landscapes in cities like Mecca, Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have a lot in common with those of cities in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Let me tell you why.
Red the article published in the IDB's Sustainable Cities Blog here.
THE NIGHT AS A SPACE FOR URBAN REVITALIZATION IN LATIN AMERICA
In August, I had the privilege of participating as a speaker at TEDxCallePalma, an event that gathered 8 international experts to share ideas on how to revitalize the Historic Center of Asuncion, Paraguay--also known as the "CHA."
The event was organized by Paraguay's National Secretariat of Culture, the Masterplan for the Revitalization of the Historic Center of Asuncion (PlanCHA) and the Association for the Night-Time Movement in the Historic Center of Asunción (AMCHA).
The title of my presentation was "The night as a space for urban revitalization in Latin America." You can watch the talk below (in Spanish, with subtitles.)
NIGHT STUDIES AROUND THE WORLD
From Amsterdam's Night Mayor to other urban night researchers in Latin America, meet other "night students" here.
CAN WE MANAGE THE URBAN NIGHT? A CONVERSATION WITH AMSTERDAM'S NIGHT MAYOR
I recently traveled to Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands and a world reference when it comes to night-time policies and innovation. One of such innovations is the creation of the Nachtburgemeester (the Night Mayor), a figure elected every two years to serve as the intermediary between daytime and night-time policies and regulations.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet Mirik Milan, the Night Mayor of Amsterdam (2014-2016). As Night Mayor, Milan presides a non-profit organization that works closely with Amsterdam’s City Hall to support and promote the city’s night culture for those who visit as well as for those who live in the Dutch capital.
Read my interview with Mirik Milan published on January 2016 in the IDB's Sustainable Cities blog here.
La Nuit Blanche in Latin America and the Caribbean
La Nuit Blanche (the White Night in French) is an annual arts festival that consists in a broad range of cultural installations, performances (such as music, film and dance), themes social gatherings and other activities that take place during the night.
Born in Paris in the late 1980s, the idea of a night-time festival of the arts has spread around the world, with events in over 120 cities, including Madrid, Toronto, Montreal, Brussels and Rome.
More recently, La Nuit Blanche has also reached a growing list of Latin American capitals, which have adopted the celebration of the night as an opportunity to promote local arts and culture. This map summarizes some of the celebrations of La Nuit Blanche in the region, and the years in which they began in each city.
24-HOUR CITIES? 5 REASONS TO PROMOTE THE NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY
Cities can increase their productivity by adopting measures that regulate and diversify the array of social and economic activities that take place during the night. From London’s experience, as well as that of other cities around the world, we can identify at least 5 reasons why our cities should promote their night-time economies.
Article published in September 2014 in the blog of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) of the Inter-American Development Bank. Read full article here.
RULING THE NIGHT
The night as a referential notion of time and space has rarely been addressed in social research, especially in urban studies. Existing literature comes mainly from the United Kingdom and North America and has taken two distinct directions...
Article originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Wagner Planner, an independent student newsletter of the Urban Planning Students Association (UPSA) at NYU Wagner. Read the article and the full issue here.
LET'S CALL IT A NIGHT: 24-hour cities for the post-tiananmen generation
This paper focuses on young men and women between 18 (legal drinking age in China) and 30 years of age who work and live in Chinese Tier 1 cities, and provides policy recommendations for Chinese policymakers and urban planners interested in regulating this time frame.
Research paper submitted as a requirement for the course Urbanization and Sustainable Development in Transitional China offered at Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service on Summer 2012.
Download the paper here.
who owns the night? the right to night spaces for the youth in caracas, venezuela
Most academic literature advocates a vision of the night as a negative space where transgressive behavior is exacerbated. As a result, night-time policies presume the need to restrict social behavior as a precondition to restore and maintain order during this time frame.
In Caracas, a city where only those who ‘own’ the night have access to its spaces, a positive night-time policy has been able to generate broader access to the nocturnal by providing a way for the youth to reclaim their right to the city. Such policy is Por El Medio de la Calle (in the middle of the street) an urban festival that has changed the idea of the night for young caraqueños.
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree MSc Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics on September 1, 2011.
Download the dissertation here.