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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.

There is no question that the mountains are spaces where the conflicts between economic and symbolic uses, exploitation and protection, exploitation and protection, continuity and stasis, artificialization and nature are at play in a more open and accentuated manner. In this sense, the night has many things to say to the day. It is easy to imagine, as well, that a transformation of the night will affect changes on the day.

Mountain nights may be seen as territories of innovation. They invite us to rethink our social and cultural identities, as well as those of our territories. The night is not a resource like any other. Observable trends in our use of mountains reveal the dynamics and the paradoxes that criss-cross contemporary society and invite new forms of research and analysis. What are these evolutions? Which sectors and territories are being affected? What forms of sociability and identity are emerging? Where is ongoing innovation to be found? What are some of the outcomes of these processes? These are some of the questions that might be tackled in this issue.

We invite articles addressing the interplay between night and mountain its various dimensions. Articles may deal with the specific features of mountain nights and the spatial and historical processes through which the mountain night has developed. They might trace changes in the range of night-time activities in mountain regions, analyzing the extent of their increase, and examining the economic, technological and media dimensions of such changes. We invite articles studying the relationship between the needs of residents, day visitors, and tourists.

Articles may deal with differences in strategies to exploit or protect mountain nights, for example by granting them heritage status. They may identify and analyse contradictions between an exploitation of night-time resources through what might be called their diurnisation (the use of light in night skiing, night markets, etc.) and a use which exploits and protects a nocturnal heritage (as in the promotion of “starry nights” and “starry towns”.) Texts may deal with recent conflicts over the night between permanent and temporary residents of mountain areas, between new and earlier uses of the night, between the technologization of the mountain night and its naturalization. Other issues include different forms of exploitation of the mountain night, from the staging of spectacular nights through the ongoing modification of “ordinary” nights. Contributors may move beyond public space into the private spaces of nocturnal rituals and scenes so as to examine the evolution of nocturnal sociabilities. New representations of the mountain night and their practices of aestheticization are welcome.

This special issue sets out to identify and interpret the transformation of the mountain night in its various dimensions. It will offer a critical examination of the relationships of night to mountain in their economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions. Deliberately multiscalar, this issue will use the mountain in order to offer a global perspective on the transformation of the night.

Potential issues and topics for articles

The proposals for articles should seek to contribute to the discussion about the transformation of nights in the mountain:

  • How and to what end are mountain spaces and societies transformed by this extension of the reach of the day?

  • What kind of evolution is involved in this transformation?

  • What kind of exploitation?

  • What are the effects on the night (on landscape, society, territory…) of this transformation?

  • What are the economic, political, social, environmental and cultural consequences?

  • What kinds of lifestyles and forms of sociability become prominent in mountains when the day no longer holds sway as it did before?

  • In what way are mountain nights a time and a place for innovation?

  • Can one limit oneself to examining leisure activities in order to understand the night? What about the resort employees who work for the tourists? What about the mountain night away from the resorts and outside of peak season?

  • What are the implications of these transformations for territorial strategy?


Proposals for articles of approximately 600 words should be sent in French (if the author is French-speaking) OR in English (non-French-speaking authors) by January 31st, 2017 to Luc Gwiazdzinski and to the editorial coordination section: Olivier Vallade,; Sylvie Duvillard (Université Pierre-Mendès-France, CNRS PACTE UMR5194),; Coralie Mounet (CNRS PACTE UMR5194),

  • Final articles are expected by June, 1st 2017.

  • The final articles must be submitted in one of the languages of the journal: the Alpine languages (French, Italian and German), Spanish or English.The author must make arrangements to have the text translated into a second language after assessment. One of the two versions must be in English. If the article is submitted by an English-language speaker, the translation must be in French.

  • Publication of the issue is scheduled for the end of 2017.


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