A utopian vision of the city is often bright, well-lit, and conversely darkness and night are more often associated with dystopia. This paper uses an ethnographic study of night-time in a busy street space in the middle of a south coast UK city in order to demonstrate the application of ‘utopia as method’, or rather utopia as a mobile method in understanding justice and injustice in urban space. In doing so, we suggest the possibilities of urban mobile space, arguing that ‘utopia as method’ originates in Lefebvre’s (1991) work on the possibilities that arise from the seemingly impossible imaginings of urban transformation. We use what are considered to be distinct approaches to photography: ‘ethnographic’ and ‘expressive’ in demonstrating this. Photography tells a story of the lighting of the space in illuminating the street in particular ways and making visible aspects that otherwise may go unnoticed. We draw from the boundaries, of photography (and therefore light), of method, and of urban space, looking to the ‘territorial edges’ for Lefebvre’s possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Mobilities on 30/10/2019, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17450101.2019.1678906


  • mobilities
  • urban utopias
  • visual methodologies
  • night-time
  • light
  • Mobile utopias
  • photography
  • utopia as method


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