Media @ McGill

Jonathan Rouleau | The Cultural Nocturnalization of the Marconi-Alexandra Neighborhood in Montreal: Implications and Issues

Submitted by Media@McGill on


During the period of the award, I will write and edit a scholarly article entitled “The Cultural Nocturnalization of the Marconi-Alexandra neighborhood in Montreal: Implications and Issues”. I intend to submit this paper to Quebec Studies, a peer-reviewed periodical published by the American Council for Public Studies.

The role of culture in regeneration projects in city centres has long been recognized (Zukin 1995). Policymakers have been keen to recognize the potential of culture, more specifically the role of the consumption of leisure and arts, in terms of both economic benefits and in shaping the image of the city. But less fully and less clearly expressed in Canada, is the fact that the “nighttime economy” of a city, defined by Brabazon and Mallinder (2007:168) as “the appropriation of night-time urban spaces by the leisure and entertainment industries,” is at the core of the idea of the vibrant city and part of its wider social and cultural economy. Moreover, the nighttime cultural economy in fringe areas of the city remains overlooked. Yet, such areas are hubs for creative industries and alternative art forms that define and shape culture in the city.

In this paper, I examine the rise of a nighttime niche economy in the Marconi-Alexandra neighborhood in Montreal. Often dubbed “Mile-Ex”, Marconi-Alexandra is an idiosyncratic enclave that has no distinct boundaries between its commercial, industrial and residential aspects. I draw upon recent scholarly works on the concept of “scene” (Straw 2014), “nocturnalization” (Koslofsky 2011), and “exclusive geographies” (Chatterton 1999; Sibley 1999), as well as upon administrative documents – “PDUES” and “Site Outremont” – and blogs, to examine the issues and implications of the cultural nocturnalization of the Marconi-Alexandra Neighborhood in Montreal.

My paper is divided into three main axis of investigation. Firstly, I examine how Marconi-Alexandra is witnessing the creation of new public spaces and the appropriation of already existing public ones by an emergent (nighttime) scene in the area. Secondly, I emphasize the nature of consumption in Marconi-Alexandra that has been changing in the past few years. This has been exacerbating the cleavage between day and night, that is, between la “ville qui dort” et la “ville qui s’amuse” (Gwiazdzinski 2005). Thirdly, in the last section my paper, I posit that the creation of Université de Montréal Campus Outremont near Marconi-Alexandra will lead to the “studentification” (Smith 2005) of the area and will contribute to a greater nocturnalization.

This paper is central to my PhD thesis, focusing on the ways in which universities in Montreal fertilize the cultural scenes in the city. In my thesis, I notably examine the patterns of consumption and production of culture in neighbourhoods in Montreal in relation to its nighttime economy and to the presence of the student population, both of which are central aspects in the article I intend to submit to Quebec Studies.


Works Cited


Brabazon, T., & Mallinder, S. (2007). Into the night-time economy: work, leisure, urbanity and the creative industries. Nebula, 4(3).

Chatterton, P. (1999). University students and city centres – the formation of exclusive geographies: The case of Bristol, UK. GEOFORUM, 30(2), 117-133.

Gwiazdzinski, L. (2005). La nuit, dernière frontière de la ville. La Tour d’Aigues: Les Éditions de l'Aube.

Kittler, F. A., & Griffin, M. (1996). The city is a medium. New Literary History, 27(4).

Koslofsky, C. (2011). Evening's empire : a history of the night in early modern Europe. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sibley, D. (1995). Geographies of exclusion. London: Routledge.

Smith, D. P. (2005). Studentification: the gentrification factory. In R. Atkinson & G. Bridge (Eds.), Gentrification in a Global Context (pp. 72-89). London: Routledge.

Straw, W. (2014). Some things a scene might be. Cultural Studies. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2014.937947

Zukin, S. (1995). The cultures of cities. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.