LXNIGHTS: THE PROJECT.

NIGHTLIFE IN LISBON: A CHALLENGING AND foto1VIBRANT RESEARCH TOPIC

Over the last three decades the urban night has emerged not only as a significant space-time of productive economic activity but also as a key strategy in the urban regeneration of downtowns. Moreover the night-time economy has proved to be a valuable asset in the increasingly competition within and between global cities to attract economic investment, creative talent and tourism. However, urban nightscapes in most European cites remain clearly segmented socially, racially and spatially. This is despite the ‘nocturnalization of Western life’ and the role the night-time economy has played in (re)shapping how tourists, visitors and different segments of local population (especially university students) ‘experience’ the city today. In this sense in some European university cities the expansion and commodification of the youth-oriented nightlife has involved the rise of critical problems regarding the co-existence of residential communities and alcohol-fuelled nightlife entertainment, undermining community liveability during night-time hours and, more importantly, putting at risk the sustainable coexistence of diverse urban social groups. However, to date, scholars have paid relative attention to such urban challenges This is the case of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.

LXNIGHTS research actions include two main topics.

1) First, we takes Lisbon’s nightlife as simultaneously as the research object and as a lens to understand current urban processes that are changing the face of the city. Focusing on 7 historical areas (Alfama, Mouraria, Intendente, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Santa Catarina, and Cais do Sodré), LXNIGHTS examines how Lisbon’s new ‘distinguished’ urban nightscapes produce (and are simultaneously a product of) three distinct but interrelated urban processes – gentrification, studentification and touristification. LXNIGHTS therefore explore how different actors of the urban night in Lisbon negotiate their common interests, redefine new alliances and address ‘new’ and ‘old’ conflicts related to urban coexistence. Moreover, we pay special attention to the role both national and local administration are playing in this struggle for space, and to what extent these new kinds of urban nightscapes are supported by both national and local policies through urban renewal and cultural promotion programs. In doing so, we shed light about how the social, spatial, economic and cultural impacts of new ‘distinguished’ urban nightscapes in Lisbon can be compared to similar cases in other parts of Europe and the world.

2) LXNIGHTS also addresses policy and action-focused questions. We identify what policy instruments, strategies, good practices and joint actions between different actors of the urban night have been deployed in place in Lisbon, and what role they play today in the governance of youth-oriented nightlife of the Portuguese capital. Moreover we analyse how they are judged and assessed by local actors, stakeholders, and nightlife visitors by highlighting if such judgments and assessments influenced by gender, race, ethnicity, class, cultural and religious backgrounds and their intersections. In doing so, we intend to explore how current policy instruments, strategies, good practices and joint actions can be improved and better adapted to each nightlife area of Lisbon, proposing, at the same time, new and innovative strategies, actions and mechanisms between different actors of the urban night to diminish spatial, social and environmental negative impacts caused by the recent expanion of nightlife in Lisbon city centre. Interestingy, we also explore new, innovative, efficient and inclusive engagement and empowerment actions involving different social actors of the urban night towards better community liveability and social cohesion in nightlife quarters of the Portuguese capital.

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