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Nights and Mountains

Call for articles. Deadlines: January 31st, 2017 (abstract) and June 1st 2017 (full article). Issue editorial board: Luc Gwiazdzinski (Université Grenoble Alpes, IGA, PACTE, UMR 5194 CNRS, MOTU, / Will Straw, Department of Art History and Communications Studies (McGill University)


This call for articles probes the development of mountain nights in their various historical, economic, social, cultural, territorial and environmental dimensions. This inquiry forms part of a chronotopical investigation and rhythmanalysis of societies and territories in which we examine the organization of time along the 24-hour daily cycle, the weekly cycle of seven days and combinations of the two. 

The alternation between day and night has long structured life on Earth and determined the ways in which societies, as well as our individual and collective rhythms, function. From the beginning, humans have sought to escape the rhythms imposed by Nature and to extend their empire across the globe. While this conquest of the world system is now more or less complete, night – characterised, like a mountain, by seasonal rhythms and a gradual incline – has long remained a time and space almost untouched by human activity: a downtime, a world unexplored. But times are changing. For the past 20 years, economic and social activities have gradually colonised the night. Lighting is becoming commonplace everywhere, and its purpose is steadily changing, for example, from security to convenience. Many kinds of machinery run nonstop, and night work is becoming routine. The general trend is for there to be an increase in the prevalence and range of services. The extension of business opening hours into the night is becoming more and more common. The availablity of night-time entertainment is expanding. Theme nights are a hit. The media curfew is over, and the Internet makes it possible to surf all night long. The result is that we sleep an hour less than our grandparents did; in big cities, the night has been reduced to three wee hours between 1:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. These movements to expand economic and social activity beyond the boundaries of the day, this “nocturnalisation” of society and “diurnisation” of the night in Western cities and metropolises, have been well documented. They have received less attention, however, outside urban centres and specifically in mountain areas.

The central assumption of this call for articles is that mountains have not been spared the reach of the day into the night, and are becoming territories of tension, investigation, creativity and experimentation that compel us to rethink our ways of living by examination of their nocturnal and temporal dimensions. In both tourist and non-tourist zones, farmers and peasants work with animals not only during the day but also at night, While seasonal workers (those removing snow or, in recent years, laying down artificial snow), ski tourists, mountain climbers and others have always availed themselves of the mountain night. Does importing an urban model of the night assist us in refashioning the concept of mountain night, particularly if it involves a tourist/heritage dimension or makes that dimension more visible?

Going for a hike in the mountains should be enough to convince us that the night is now an exploited resource. We find landscapes transformed by light, brightly lit ski slopes, a new range of leisure activities, the night-time operation of sporting and tourist equipment, as well as new uses, representations and identities for mountain areas and new forms of marketing of their nightlife. Tourism-oriented strategies are spreading thanks to the development of lighting and the expansion of the range of services and activities outside of daytime. Tourism policies are increasingly focused on the night. These are often in tension with development strategies based on the granting of heritage status (patrimonialisation) to the night and starry sky.

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