Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ+) nightspaces oriented around migrant identities and histories in London, 1980s–present

How have urban night spaces been imagined, produced, experienced and narrated by LGBTQ+ migrants in London?

Aims

  • Our research looks into the socio-cultural value of nightlife venues and events for LGBTQ+ communities, focusing on spaces oriented around migrant identities and histories.
  • We examine the inter-relationships between queer subjectivities and ‘migrant orientations’ (Ahmed, 2006).
  • We consider the distinct qualities and public value of licensed premises (bars, pubs, clubs) alongside other formal and informal, transitory and long-running events that move between venues.
  • Working with partners we identify and gather evidence on case studies, seeking to understand why and how particular spaces have been created or appropriate as night spaces, and the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in and around them.
  • These cases are considered in relation to policies and practices on heritage, the night-time economy and cultural infrastructure, given the increasing focus on these areas since the mid-2010s.

Summary

This project studies night-spaces, cultures and narratives of migrant LGBTQ+ communities in London (1980s-present). London is the focus because of its international profile as city with a large and diverse LGBTQ+ population, because of its histories of colonialism and migration, and because of the significant number of night-time venues and events oriented towards groups with specific national and ethnic identities. London’s Mayor and recently appointed Night Czar have prioritized the night-time economy and support for LGBTQ+ venues, recognizing the value of these spaces to engender belonging and social integration within and across communities with distinct forms of heritage. A reported fall of LGBTQ+ night venues (58% over the past decade) due in large part to real estate pressures has resulted in specific policy innovations and media narratives that the researchers will study, alongside the production, operation, cultural and intercultural significance of LGBTQ+ migrants’ night spaces and narratives.

This research adds to the limited number of studies of migrant LGBTQ+ communities in Europe new qualitative and empirical evidence on the socio-cultural value of nightlife venues for those communities and to public life more broadly. It will consider the distinct qualities of formal licensed premises alongside transitory and long running events that move between venues, serving groups who face barriers to inclusion in mainstream commercial night-scenes (e.g. women, people with trans and non-binary identities, queer and trans people of colour). It will analyze the cultural heritage embedded in specific buildings, interiors, venues and events associated with migrant LGBTQ+ minorities, offering insights on the dynamics of inclusion/exclusion to inform policies that might challenge prejudices and foster integration.

Team

  • Ben Campkin

    Professor Ben Campkin
    PI 2, Co-Director, UCL Urban Laboratory, Professor of Architectural and Urban History and Theory, UCL

  • Professor Matthew Beaumont
    Associated researcher Professor of English and Co-Director, UCL Urban Laboratory

  • Lo Marshall

    Lo Marshall
    Research Fellow, Bartlett School of Architecture and UCL Urban Lab