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:

Socio-Scientific Approaches to Religious Enmity – 13-15th June 2022 – Hybrid Conference

The Figuring the Enemy research project—a collaboration of Trinity College and the University of St Andrews—is holding its first conference for 2022. Gathering scholars from psychology, sociology, biblical studies and theology this conference will be a broad interdisciplinary engagement on the origins of, and approaches to, religious enmity.

Plenaries will be from: 

  • Dr Elizabeth Shively (Divinity, University of St Andrews), 
  • Dr Ken Mavor (Psychology, University of St Andrews), 
  • Dr Samuel Perry (Sociology, University of Oklahoma), and 
  • Dr J. Brian Tucker (Bible and Theology, Moody Theological Seminary)

The conference will incorporate a mix of plenary presentations, paper sessions, and workshop streams to foster further engagement on questions of religious enmity and advancing interdisciplinary socio-scientific research. 

Conference attendance is hybrid in nature, with in person participants gathering in the Old Wardens Building at Trinity College Theological School, and hybrid attendance possible. Sessions will be scheduled with considerations given to a variety of time zones.

Registration is required for all participants and will provide access to the conference.

Waged In Person registrations (including light meals) are AU$50

Waged Online registrations are AU$20

Unwaged (e.g. students) registrations are free (but registration required).

Registration here:

Full schedule to be released shortly.

CFP: Socio-scientific Approaches to Religious Enmity Conference (13-15th June 2022)

After a tough year of COVID uncertainty the Figuring the Enemy project has been able to set the date for the Socio-scientific Approaches to Religious Enmity Conference in 2022. The conference will be held at Trinity College Theological School, Melbourne on the 13-15th of June 2022. The conference will include both plenary addresses and breakout sessions for scholars to present their work. Plenary speakers will include Dr Christopher A. Porter (Trinity College), Dr Elizabeth Shively (University of St Andrews, Divinity) and Dr Kenneth Mavor (University of St Andrews, Psychology).

We are interested in 300 word abstract submissions which investigate the socio-scientific means and mechanisms behind the construction and maintenance of religious groups as enemies, broadly defined. Contributions are invited from a range of disciplines and perspectives, including, but not restricted to: psychology, sociology, religious studies, and biblical studies. We actively encourage interdisciplinary engagements and scholarship. Both ancient and modern perspectives and engagement with religious emnity are welcomed.

Presentation format

We ask that participants whose abstracts are accepted submit a paper of 2,000–3,000 words for pre-distribution. The actual presentation should aim to last about 20 minutes and act as a discussion and engagement starter. All participants are encouraged to read the papers before the conference for engagement.

Submissions to close on the 28th of February 2022 and enquiries to that address are encouraged.


An edited volume of selected essays will be published after the conference, and will be solicited in due course.

Figuring the Enemy 1-Day Workshop (December 2nd 9am AEDT)

The Figuring the Enemy project will be hosting its first 1-Day workshop on the 2nd of December at Trinity College and hybrid via Zoom. The workshop series will function as exploratory exercises to stimulate thinking and collaboration.

This first workshop will be setting things up broadly for the project, and integrated between the social-psychological and political-theological streams. We will be hearing short précis from each of our presenters about their own area of work, and have allocated reasonable amounts of time for discussion and engagement.

We would love for scholars to come and join us for the first of the workshops, and you can register below. We have attempted to make the timezone somewhat workable (22:00 GMT//17:00 EST//14:00 PT) so we hope you can join us.

Workshop explorations include:

• Christopher Porter – “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” Social identity and religious enmity.
• Elizabeth Shively – Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7.
• Ken Mavor – Social Identity and Fundamentalism
• Brian Tucker – “Interrogate the Theory”: The (Un)usefulness of Social Identity Theory for Uncovering Paul’s Opponents
• John Dunne – “‘They Do Not Keep The Law’ (Galatians 6.13): Forceful Circumcision and the Fruit of the Spirit”
• Adam White – Staging Incest and Identifying the Enemy: Reading 1 Cor 5 in Light of the Black Sheep Effect and Ancient Theatre
• Lachlan Davis – Is the effectiveness of the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers in Gen 50:15-21 subverted by redactions that dealt with enmity between social groups in Persian period Israel?
• Amy Isham – Discarding the “Other”: Social ostracism in small communities
• Emily McAvan – The Jew, the Queer: Histories of (non)conversion
• Scott Kirkland – On the Possibility of a Genealogy of the Enemy

Please register here to join us:

Figuring the Enemy – PhD Scholarship

Trinity College is offering one fully-funded PhD fee remission and stipend for an outstanding candidate to work on the project: Figuring the Enemy: Social-Psychological and Political Theological Approaches to the Question of Enmity.

The figure of the enemy emerges in the New Testament through the command to love neighbour and enemy. Yet, often throughout the history of Christian theology, the precise contours and conditions of enmity fade from view. This project assumes that contemporary political and social enmities can help unearth genealogies of the concept in order to illuminate the structural formations that determine enmity and so interpolate persons into social relations of enmity in the present. Figuring the enemy, then, illuminates the shape of the theological frames in which and methods by which Christianity has positioned the enemy, and so subjects it to productive critique.

The project consists of two streams, one focused upon New Testament and socio-cognitive psychology, the other on contemporary political theology. Candidates from both disciplinary areas are invited to apply, in consultation with the two project Lead Investigators, Dr. Christopher A. Porter, and Dr. Scott A. Kirkland.


To be eligible, students must:

  • meet the academic and admission requirements of the University of Divinity PhD program
  • be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or international student who can attain a valid student visa prior to commencement.

Value and duration

Total value: $132,000AUD.

  • 100% University of Divinity fee remission for three years of a full-time doctorate degree, currently valued at $51,000
  • three-year living allowance, valued at around $27,000 per year (total $81,000).

Special conditions

  • Scholarships cannot be deferred
  • Scholarships cannot be taken up at other colleges of the University of Divinity
  • Students must successfully enrol at the University of Divinity following the usual PhD application process after discussing their proposed research topic with Trinity
  • Scholarship recipients must meet the University of Divinity’s expectations for academic progress, and the scholarship may be withdrawn if satisfactory progress or full-time enrolment is not maintained.

Closing dates 30 September 2022
We encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to apply.

For more information, including how to apply, you can email the following:
Chris Porter:
and/or Scott Kirkland:

Welcome to the project

Recently Trinity College was awarded an extraordinary large grant from the University of Divinity to conduct research into questions of religious enmity from both socio-cognitive and political-theological frameworks. Through this page we will seek to collate and distribute information and engagement on the project.