Doctor of Philosophy
Gallan, Ben, Becoming Crepuscular: rethinking the human relationship to day and night, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, , University of Wollongong, 2014. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4187
This thesis is a critical geographic study of the human relationship to day and night. Historical and geographic analysis of one of these two categories – night – has accumulated in the last decade. Such work has explored the diverse meanings and experiences of night, and how they have changed with modernity. In the context of such research on night, this thesis contends that a closer consideration of the binary of night and day is needed. Humanities scholars and social scientists have critiqued binaries since the critical, poststructuralist and feminist turns of the 1970s and 1980s. Thus far, however, the binary of day and night has been remarkably absent from such critiques. This thesis responds accordingly, and provides a new means for theorising the binary of day and night. I develop a ‘crepuscular’ framework as a means to unsettle the seemingly rigid binary of day and night. Crepuscular literally means to be active at dawn and dusk, distinct from the more familiar categories of diurnal (active during the day) and nocturnal (active during the night). In this thesis, crepuscular is a term that signals an agenda to trouble and to extend beyond the dualistic categories of night and day, the nocturnal and diurnal.
An emphasis on the crepuscular is developed through Lefebvre’s theory of transduction. Transduction is a method to propose ‘virtual’, hypothetical futures. Imaginative, utopian futures are seen as increasingly important in the context of current economic and ecological crises. Such conversations tend to speculate on coping with instability, insecurity and uncertainty. This thesis departs instead from a focus on the comparatively stable and eternal cycle of day and night. Beyond the binary of day and night I explore a notion of becoming crepuscular. Becoming crepuscular is a projection of how future encounte rs with day and night could be thought differently. In becoming crepuscular, this thesis considers what we ultimately might want day and night to mean in our everyday lives. Transduction ensures that such explorations remain rigorous and embedded in existing examples of the material world. I complement the development of transduction with other elements of Lefebvre’s intellectual corpus including the production of space, critique of everyday life, rhythmanalysis and the right to the city. These elements compose an overall Lefebvrian sensibility. A Lefebvrian sensibility seeks to make contributions that are both intellectual and grounded in the experience of everyday life.
This thesis is primarily conceptual in that it seeks to retheorise and refocus existing scholarship that is either explicitly or implicitly concerned with day and night. Conceptual advances are illustrated via a diverse mix of examples gleaned from everyday life: revealing divergenttemporalities of day and night between linear and cyclical time; debates about the night-time economy; bringing everyday behaviours, practices and technologies such as sleep and lighting into a specific discussion about day and night’s meaning in our lives; exploring gendered exclusion in the night and calls for the legitimation of nocturnal subcultures; an autoethnographic analysis of the changing experience of day and night for new parents; and exploring the rise of place-based dark-sky preservation. None of these examples constitutes a single case study or central empirical core. Rather, they are woven as examples into a structure that stems from transduction as method. In this structure, the journey from critique of the actual towards the ‘virtual’ horizon takes place through a sequence of encounters with the crepuscular. Conceptual explorations are fleshed out through literature reviews, media analysis, autoethnography, artistic and literary texts and a digital research repository, facilitated through social media.
The cycle of day and night is one of the most dependable aspects of planet earth and has played an integral part in the evolution of cellular life. We are, in many ways, made of day and night. This thesis provokes further consideration of how we want that making to define our future life. In developing a crepuscular perspective this thesis concludes that day and night are full of possibilities for reimagining everyday life.