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03.03.2019 12:01 Alter: 83 days

Imagined Borders, Epistemic Freedoms

Call for Papers

Theme: Imagined Borders, Epistemic Freedoms
Subtitle: The Challenge of Social Imaginaries in Media, Art, Religion
and Decoloniality
Type: 2020 CMRC Conference
Institution: Center for Media, Religion, and Culture (CMRC),
University of Colorado Boulder
  Research Consortium SIMAGINE, University of Humanistic Studies
Location: Boulder, CO (USA)
Date: 8.–11.1.2020
Deadline: 10.6.2019

The question of borders and the practice of bordering persist in a
world destined for encounters and confrontations. This persistence
today bears resemblance to long-standing legacies of coloniality,
modernity, and globalization, but it also foregrounds new narratives,
aesthetics, and politics of exclusion and dehumanization. Talk of
walls, fortresses, boundaries, and deportation has never been a
political or philosophical anomaly, but rather a reflection of a
particularistic social imaginary, a linear compulsion of epistemic
assumptions that sees the world through the logic of hierarchy,
classification, difference, and ontological supremacy. This
foreclosure is a widely shared and accepted social imaginary, as
demonstrated in current scholarship in the critical humanities and
social and political sciences: a foreclosure that has also defined
institutions and disciplines of knowledge production which continue
to marginalize other knowledge systems and intellectual traditions
and refuse to acknowledge their viability and legitimacy in the
academy. Disciplinary walls and intellectually demarcated canons
within the Western and Westernized university in the Global North and
South have generally produced narrow curricula and models of learning
that reproduce selective systems of thought, discourses and

The tenacity of this normalized worldview requires urgent new
imaginaries: a decolonial perspective not only to call out the
ontological instability of Western theory, but also to establish a
sense of epistemic hospitality capable of liberating and re-centering
other ways of knowing and dwelling in the world. This contestation of
physical and cognitive borders has found its most ardent proponents
in recent movements such as #RhodesMustFall, Standing Rock, Idle No
More, Undocumented and Unafraid, #Whyismycurriculumsowhite, Arab
Uprisings, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo, among others. At the heart
of this decolonial injunction is a desire by absented voices to
reclaim the right to self-narrate, to signify, and to render visible
local histories, other temporalities, subjectivities, cosmologies,
and struggles silenced by Western and Westernized accounts of the

The fields of art, religion and the media have not yet come under
historical scrutiny about their own epistemic and existential
imaginaries and whether they reify or disrupt dominant structures and
legacies of knowledge production? Drawing from a variety of
intellectual traditions and established academic disciplines, these
fields risk carrying the same blind spots, the same foreclosures, the
same ontological foundations, and the same centered claims to

What can a decolonial critique then do to avoid a zero-sum
epistemology? And how can we develop new decolonial imaginaries as an
invitation to undo the Eurocentrism of our paradigms, challenge the
verticality of our pedagogical designs, and achieve an ethics of
interpretation, an epistemic justice whereby theories from the South
or from ‘the margins’ in the North are not treated merely as local or
subjective? The decolonial attitude challenges us to avoid embracing
singular universalities, and rethink altogether the hierarchies of
global-local and of universal-particular that underlie this world’s
inequality. This will be the ninth in a series of successful
international conferences held by the Center for Media, Religion, and
Culture in Boulder. The previous meetings have brought together an
interdisciplinary community of scholars for focused conversations on
emerging issues in media and religion. Each has proven to be an
important landmark in the development of theory and method in its
respective area and has resulted in important collaborations,
publications, and resources for further research and dialogue.

The 2020 conference is organized in conjunction with SIMAGINE, an
international and interdisciplinary research consortium bringing
together partners from the USA, the UK, Europe and South-Africa; it
is hosted by the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, the
Netherlands, and dedicated to the study of social imaginaries between
secularity and religion in a globalizing world. SIMAGINE has
organized conferences on ‘Religion, Community, Borders’ leading to a
special issue of the open access Journal for Religion and
Transformation in December 2019. In 2018 the consortium published the
volume Social Imaginaries in a Globalizing World.

The conference will feature keynote lectures and keynote
conversations, as well as thematic panels and artistic performances.
We invite papers and panels from across disciplines, intellectual
traditions, and geographic locations that engage with these questions
and beyond. Possible topics could include but are not limited to:

- Borders, Bordering, Border Zones between the Imaginary and the Real
- Modernity, Secularity, Religious Legacies and Universality
- Social Imaginaries and (the Critique of) Anthropocentrism
- Coloniality and Decolonial Epistemologies
- What Counts as Critical Theory and Decolonial Critique?
- What Counts as Religion in the Decolonial Imaginary?
- Big Data, Algorithmic Culture, and (De)Coloniality
- Decolonial Intersectionalities
- Decolonial Feminisms
- Decolonizing Race, Ethnicity, and Identity
- Decolonial Pedagogy, Methodology, and Praxis.
- Media, Religion, and Theoretical Provincialism
- Media, Arts, and Decolonial Theory
- Media, Religion, the Other, and the Subaltern
- Religion, Theology, and Social Imaginaries
- Social Imaginaries and (the Critique) of Neoliberalist Globalization
- Geopolitics of Knowledge Production
- Language, Publishing, and Boundaries of Learning
- Imagination and Worldview Education: Interreligious Dialogue
- Queering the Archives

Abstracts of 300-350 words should be submitted to
by June 10, 2019. Please include your email address and university
affiliation in your submission.

For questions, email Nabil Echchaibi, Associate Director:

or Stewart M. Hoover, Director:


Center for Media, Religion, and Culture (CMRC)
University of Colorado Boulder
Armory Building
1511 University Ave.
478 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0478