CFP & Registration for Figuring the Enemy Interdisciplinary and Integrative Workshop Symposium 6-8th of June at the University of St Andrews, Scotland

Trinity College of the University of Divinity and the University of St Andrews are pleased to host a workshop symposium on Figuring the Enemy: Socio-Scientific and Political Theological Approaches to Religious Enmity exploring interdisciplinary approaches to religious enmity: ancient and modern. 

The impetus for socio-scientific examination stems from locating the generation of enmity within attempts to distinguish outsiders from group self-identification, which yields both external conflict and internal conformity. This pattern of socio-cognitive engagement with the norms and distinctives of the group instils a pair of powerful cognitive forces in the impetus to normatively fit to the group, and simultaneously remain comparatively distinct from other groups (Tajfel, 1982). Furthermore, these same cognitive processes lead to the generation of stereotypical categories to allocate individuals to as friend or foe (Oakes et al, 1994).

In parallel, political theology’s disciplinary coordinates are taken largely from the ambiguous figure of Carl Schmitt. Schmitt’s insistence that the political order is founded on the friend/enemy distinction, and that the secularised figure of the sovereign polices the boundary between these two categories. Instead we are approaching from a different angle, posing the question of the shape of the enemy itself. This entails both questioning the foundations of the political as such, and the relationship between the theological structures of its legitimation and reproduction. 

To date the project has held two separate conferences engaging with socio-scientific approaches, and political-theological engagements. This symposium will bring the insights from each stream of work into conversation with each other and open the engagement to a broader audience.

Therefore, the Figuring the Enemy project is seeking 300-word abstract submissions for to this open call for papers for a conference symposium to be held at the University of St Andrews, from the 6th to the 8th of June 2023. Papers approach the problem of religious enmity from either socio-scientific or political-theological disciplinary coordinates or integrate interdisciplinary approaches. Special consideration will be given to proposals which seek to integrate both coordinates. Draft papers of ~3000 words will be pre-distributed and summarised in 10-15 minutes for discussion and engagement, ahead of developing these papers for later publication. 

Papers should address at least one of these questions:

  • What are the socio-scientific origins of inter-group enmity and/or religious polemic?
  • What are the political engagements with religious enmity?
  • What are the social-group or political frameworks of religious enmity?

Ideally papers will be situated as to stimulate further interdisciplinary engagement, and foster collaboration and networking. 

Submissions welcomed to and will close on 15th of March 2023. Acceptance will be communicated on a rolling basis.

Registration for attendance is available here: