Paul Graham's American Night and the Politics of Exposure, Journal of American Studies, (Cambridge University Press), Volume 54, Special Issue 3 (US Topographics: Imaging National Landscapes) July 2020.


In his photobook American Night (2003), the photographer Paul Graham evokes the passage of a walker who draws the outline of a composite and dialectic map of the American city. This article will examine how the book's structure and its division into zones is symptomatic of the explosion of the city and of its spatial, social and racial inequalities. These zones are also spaces of invisibility and visibility, of over-/perfect/under-exposure, illuminating the social/racial contrasts that underpin the urban environment and the mechanisms of their perpetuation. In this sense, American Night ultimately exposes the biopolitical struggle that underscores the American city.