Speaking for Ourselves

Reflections from researching the night shift

Reflections from researching the night shift

Julius-Cezar MacQuarie | N!GHTSPARKS

 Migrant Voice - Reflections from researching the night shift

NightWorkPod (NWP) documents experiences while working the night shift. NWP is inspired by my research into the sociology of the invisible migrant night shift workers in London.

I am Julius-Cezar MacQuarie, and I am an anthropologist. I took up research at night when I learnt that night shift workers were invisible in the scholarly literature (mostly focusing on night life), as well as from public debates. Seven years later, NWP was born.

After the first three episodes, Julius-Cezar decided to reflect on what he had learnt. Here's what he had to say in his latest podcast...

"In this episode, I reflect on the lessons learnt whilst podcasting about experiences of London’s ‘other workers’ invested in the night shift. Though not exclusively, most of those people working the night shift are migrants and males.

"In this series, I’ve tried to address the gender-sensitive issues and show that in my research I have met and spoken to women as well as men. This is dependent on the job sector. I found that more men work in construction, bus driving, fire services; also that women are working in ambulance services, supporting the marginalised, in addiction services and soup kitchens, but they remain unnoticed.

"Whilst for the most part, London is asleep at night, the ‘other workers’ are up, yet they are invisible from the diurnals’ consciousness, out of political debates, and last but not least, from migration scholarship and from globalisation and critical labour studies.

"Traditionally and in colonial contexts, anthropologists studied the ‘other’ in societies different from Western civilisation. The research behind this podcast series aligns with the efforts made by social scientists who study the ‘other’ in our own, western societies.

"These ‘other’ are more often than not labelled as migrants or marginalised groups from the majority group and invisible from the eyes and minds of the latter.

"This kind of research emphasises entering and portraying the world from the perspective of the people inhabiting the night, facing struggles or simply living on opposite hours to fellows living and working in the same hemisphere or in the same time zone.

"Guests invited onto the NightWorkPod talked about their experiences, which I group into three themes.

"The first is that night shift workers, migrants or locals, do something together but not with one another.

"Second, I found that night workers became bio-automatons whose physical resources were depleted by the precarious working conditions.

"And third, by and large, the ‘other workers’ who keep the city going round-the-clock are migrants invisible from the mainstream societies."


For the full text click here.

And to listen to the podcast, click here.


Why a Podcast on Working the Night Shift?

This podcast series seeks to bring out to the diurnal (daytime) and nocturnal listeners alike the inaudible voices of migrants working the night shift in cities, like London, Birmingham or Glasgow.

The NWP brings to light the invisible lives of night shift workers and gives voice to those up and working at night. Who are these workers? Why do they do the night shift? How do they experience the city at night when working while the rest of the city enjoys the night life or sleep? What does it mean to their families and households inhabited by night workers? And when do night workers socialise with the rest of the (diurnal) society?

As this series of podcasts uncover the invisible lives of migrants, their precarious working conditions, the battles they fight every night to stay awake and alert while working, we aim to reach to the ear buds of all those curious on all things nightwork and night workers.

We hope that you, our listeners and readers, will join the journeys of night workers appearing in these podcasts as we explore the reasons, motivations (individual), and factors (structural) behind the root causes of labour exploitation among migrant night workers.


About the author and this collaboration with MV

Julius-Cezar MacQuarie is the creator of NightWorkPod and founder of N!GHTSPARKS. He graduated in 2018 with a PhD in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the Central European University. As Nightlaboratory collaborator and filmmaker, he co-directed “Invisible Lives” with Tim Marrinan (UK, 2013).  Watch the trailer of his next short film: The Sleepless Bat. To get in touch please tweet: @tweetsfromdrjc // Web Profile: www.nightsparks.london

Migrant Voice and N!GHTSPARKS collaboration began through conversations in a shared kitchen at Ladbroke Grove, West London, over six years ago. We discussed our interests and potential projects to collaborate on. Fast forward to 2018. An exciting opportunity to produce a podcast series arrived. Combined, our work rests upon Migrant’s Voice experience in providing platforms for migrants to speak out and the research rigour behind the doctoral study on bodily precariousness and cooperation among manual labourers in the New Spitalfields market, East London. Our plans for future collaboration are exciting and in-the-making. Stay tuned and watch it as our story unravels.

Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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