International Conference

Los Angeles, 1988.

The Bright Side of Night – Perceptions, Costs and the Governance of
Lighting and Light Pollution

June 20–21, 2013
Erkner by Berlin (Germany)

Organisers: Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural
Planning (IRS, Erkner, Germany) Department of Urban and Regional Planning
– Technische Universität Berlin (ISR-TUB, Berlin, Germany)

Call for Posters

The introduction of public and private lighting systems in the late 19th
and early 20th century contributed to a profound and ongoing change in the
socio-economic, cultural and physical realities of modern cities. Working
and living routines no longer had to be aligned with the natural rhythm of
day and night, resulting in a dramatic increase in the night-time
production of goods as well as in the emergence of a bustling nightlife.
As a result, the perception and use of urban public space at night has
changed fundamentally.

Despite the largely positive connotations associated with lighting and its
multiple cultural and social functions, the use of artificial light in
public spaces was – and is – neither universal nor uncontested. Negative
impacts on humans and animals, on the aesthetic qualities of town- and
landscapes as well as the ecological aftermath of energy consumption have
been discussed from early on – recently culminating in growing criticism
concerning “light pollution”. So far, there are only few general standards
or regulations regarding the quantity and quality of outdoor lighting.
This is not surprising, as artificial lighting is a highly complex field
that involves multiple interests and actors – and empirical research on
the topic has only begun in recent years. In order to address the
multi-faceted issue of artificial lighting adequately, it must face the
challenge of considering the historical, cultural, socio-political,
environmental and economic dimensions of light in an integrated fashion.

During the two-day conference focusing on the humanities and the social
sciences, various aspects and research approaches concerning lighting and
light pollution will be explored and discussed (research fields will
include history, literature and arts, geography, urban planning, politics
and economics). Each conference panel will highlight a different approach.
In the first panel, the main emphasis will be placed on the perception of
artificial light, e.g. the genesis, development and change of the symbolic
values attributed to light and darkness or the production and perception
of spaces and nocturnal cityscapes. The functions and infrastructural
provision of artificial lighting as well as public and vernacular lighting
practices will be discussed in the second panel. The emphasis of the third
panel will be on lighting conflicts and the governance of outdoor lighting
with a focus on the limits and potential of regulating light in public
space. The fourth panel will concentrate on methods and research
approaches for the assessment of perceptions and costs of artificial
lighting, light pollution and the night sky.
Among others, Jane Brox (Maine, USA), Susanne Bach and Folkert Degenring
(University of Kassel, Germany), Tim Edensor (Manchester Metropolitan
University, UK), Martin Morgan-Taylor (DeMontfort University Leicester,
UK), Kenneth Willis (University of Newcastle, UK), and Terrel Gallaway
(Missouri State University, USA) will present at the conference.

We particularly encourage junior researchers (postgraduates and postdocs)
from the humanities and social sciences to contribute a poster to the
conference. The posters will be discussed between the panels to complement
the presentations of the invited speakers.

We welcome contributions that address one or more of the following topics
referring to past or present:

– Symbolism and perceptions of artificial lighting or darkness
– Infrastructural provision of artificial lighting
– Social uses and functions of illumination and the production and sense
of place
– Artificial lighting and environmental sustainability
– Light planning practices
– Governance of artificial lighting and darkness
– Conflicts concerning artificial lighting
– Methods to evaluate perceptions and costs of artificial lighting, light
pollution or darkness

The conference marks the completion of a 3-year interdisciplinary research
project on the causes and consequences of artificial outdoor lighting
entitled ‘Loss of the Night’ (
which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research

Please submit your abstract of approx. 200 words by December 15, 2012 to:
Ute Hasenöhrl (, for history and the arts) or
Katharina Krause (, for the social sciences)

Please don’t hesitate to contact us in case you have any further questions.