Contested landscapes: the moral geographies of light pollution in Britain

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    This paper considers the concept of light pollution and its connections to moral geographies of landscape in Britain. The paper aims to provide a greater understanding of light pollution in the present day, where the issue connects to policy debates about energy efficiency, crime, health, ecology and night time aesthetics, whilst also engaging with new areas of research in cultural geography. The main sources of investigation are the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies (est. 1990). Using interviews, archival and textual analysis, the paper examines this anti-light-pollution lobby, looking at the lead-up to the formation of the Campaign as well as its ongoing influence. A moral geography of light pollution is identified, drawing on two interconnected discourses – a notion of the ‘astronomical sublime’ and the problem of urbanization. Whilst the former is often invoked, both through visual and linguistic means, by anti-light pollution campaigners, the latter is characterized as a threat to clear night skies, echoing earlier protests against urban sprawl. Complementing a growing area of research, the geographies of light and darkness, this paper considers the light pollution lobby as a way of investigating the fundamental relationship between humankind and the cosmos in the modern age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-636
    Number of pages18
    JournalCultural Geographies
    Issue number4
    Early online date21 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


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