Borders and Boundaries: Political, Scientific, and Religious Perspectives

IARPT Tagung
Termin: 12.06.2023 – 15.06.2023
Beginn: 09:00 Uhr
Ort: Katholische Akademie in Berlin, Hannoversche Str. 5, 10115 Berlin

The Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought (IARPT) is pleased to announce its 2023 international meeting at the Katholische Akademie in Berlin.


Keynote and plenary speakers include: Sigurd Bergmann, Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary, Terrence Deacon, John Thatamanil, Robert Yelle, Marcia Pally, Matthew Bagger, and Randall Auxier.

As sites of power manifested, borders and boundaries characterize some of the prevailing developments of our time, encompassing families separated, hope and hopelessness, and the limits of civil and political order. Christian Parenti has written that “the border becomes a text from which to read the future—or a version of it” (2011). This conference theme finds inspiration in Parenti’s metaphor, both by recognizing a radical openness to the present situation and insisting on the capacity of theology, philosophy, ethics, and other associated disciplines to rewrite better outcomes and mitigate those that are catastrophic.

The conference addresses an interdisciplinary and integrative look at these dynamics. In the fluidity of the contemporary global order, attending to relationships among forms of bordering offers lessons on how to reimagine borders and boundaries more justly and with greater sensitivity to both ecological systems and human communities, religious or otherwise.


Main topics are:
1) Religious borders/boundaries can be defined as points at which the contrasts between religious traditions become explicit and self-conscious to the members of the cultures in question or to third parties, giving rise to narratives that reinforce said contrasts. Perspectives: approaches to interreligious dialogue, the theological “spatial turn,” the limits of the secular/post-secular, political theologies regarding land and territory, or peace/violence in interreligious terms.


2) Political borders/boundaries can be defined as demarcations between neighboring
sovereign territories, in which sovereignty is typically understood according to the
(contested) norms of the Westphalian system, i.e., as mutually recognized, mutually
excluded, and uniformly distributed within each territory in question. Possible paper
topics include: the proliferation of walls, changing patterns of sovereignty, cartographic
practices, and postcolonial dynamics, as well as various theoretical perspectives.
Ecological borders/boundaries can be defined as thresholds concerning human
interaction with more-than-human biological and climatic systems, challenging as well as reinforcing such terms as “nature” and “culture” and traversing the limits of the human. Perspectives: the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries ecology, biosemiotics, or ecotheologies.


3) Analytical borders/boundaries can be defined either as distinctions between analytical approaches, i.e., academic disciplines, or as distinctions which are themselves of a predominantly analytical character, i.e., logical or metaphysical distinctions. Perspectives: approaches to interdisciplinarity, paradox, continuity/discontinuity, spatial or temporal boundaries considered as such, or theories of entanglement.

By examining and layering these forms of bordering in succession, the program for the
conference represents a structure by which the various types of borders can be analyzed and compared. To do so is to invite inquiries into the dynamics of interreligious interaction, territorial sovereignty, and the human relationship with nonhuman nature within planetary systems.


Mehr Informationen zur Veranstaltung.
Prof. Dr. Sigurd Bergmann
LMU München
Prof. Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary
University of Grenoble
Prof. Terrence Deacon
UC Berkeley
Prof. John J. Thatamanil
Union Theological Seminary
Prof. Dr. Robert A. Yelle
LMU München
Prof. Marcia Pally
New York University / HU Berlin
Prof. Matthew C. Bagger
University of Alabama
Prof. Randall Auxier
Southern Illinois University
Dr. Stephan Steiner
+49 30 28 30 95-151 E-Mail schreiben
Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought (IARPT)