Night narratives of migration in the Netherlands

How have urban night spaces been imagined, produced, experienced and narrated among migrant communities in Rotterdam and Amsterdam?


1. Identify key public spaces and venues in the cultural nightlife of the Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam (1950-present);

2. Further the understanding of how Cape Verdean culture contributes to the fostering of ties of belonging and (inter)cultural interactions:

  • within the community itself;
  • between the Cape Verdean community and other migrant communities, with a special focus on the migrant communities from other Portuguese-speaking countries.
  • between the Cape Verdean community and the wider Dutch national culture, with a special focus on how this diaspora impacts the socio-cultural fabric of the city of Rotterdam.

3. Stimulate a dialogue between the municipality of Rotterdam and the Amsterdam Night Mayor Office and night advocacy organizations (with the support of our Associated Partner Mr Mirik Milan) to identify the best practices of creating an inclusive night policy.


This project will focus on the Cape-Verdean community in Rotterdam (approximately 20,000 people), the third largest Cape-Verdean diaspora in the world. It is chosen because of its deep socio-cultural connection with Rotterdam, sometimes described as Cape Verde’s tenth island. The city is considered in its night-time cultural connections with migrant communities in Amsterdam (e.g. Brazil), where a night-time economy is already institutionalized (Night Mayor). Since early migration in the 1950s, Cape Verdeans have a history of cultural production – most notably music and performance – much of it played out ‘after hours’, yet they are known as ‘silent migrants’, i.e. traditionally out-of-trouble but also invisible.

The digitization by Rotterdam’s city archives of the iconic Rotterdam-based Morabeza Records label (1965-1976) evidence the authorities’ increased awareness of the impact of Cape-Verdean community for the socio-cultural fabric of Rotterdam and migration history in the Netherlands more broadly. Yet, its cultural contribution has been understudied, although it provides an important case study to understand how night-time urban public spaces have been experienced and narrated, what those narratives tell us of experiences of arrival, settlement (older generation) and individual and group (inter)cultural expression amongst younger (often Dutch-born) generations, vis-à-vis possible experiences of exclusion or marginalization.

We will focus on how spaces of belonging were/are constructed, through historical mapping of key nocturnal urban sites (e.g. Heemraadsplein,the iconic Delta hotel), and analysis of emerging narratives e.g. testimonials; venue flyers; literary; filmic (1950-present). Preliminary research indicates a contemporary tendency towards intercultural exchange and use of mobile/informal spaces (for activism and identity negotiation). Comparative studies Amsterdam/Rotterdam will assess how local policies on night-time leisure can foster integration and intercultural exchange. The team will collaborate with Associate Partners: the Amsterdam Night Mayor office – and former Night Mayor Mr Mirik Milan (now of VibeLab) – in knowledge exchange/dissemination, and Cape-Verdean director Ivan Barbosa, who will produce a community-led/participatory documentary on nightlife in Rotterdam.


  • Dr Sara Brandellero
    PI and NITE Project Leader

  • Dr Kamila Krakowska-Rodrigues

  • Seger Kersbergen
    PhD Candidate

  • Prof.Dr. Frans-Willem Korsten
    PhD Promotor