Welcome to “Boundaries of the Natural: Matter, Territory, Community”

May 28-30, 2020

Universidad de la Salle, Bogotá, Colombia

 “Boundaries of the Natural” is a transdisciplinary conference that takes on questions about the forms of knowledge and action responsive to the political and social climate of late globalization and global environmental crisis.

Responses to the past few decades’ mass migrations across oceans and continents have been emblematic of the impasses in thinking about borders as social, historical, and legal categories that shape and naturalize ideas about community, kinship, and identity. The movement of millions across inhospitable landscapes and national borders competes for attention with the rise to power of the politics of deep conservatism all over Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The failure of formal or administrative borders to stop human movement has brought about a renewed interest in the status of boundaries that divide communities or determine identities of individuals and groups. 

We are present for new, thicker accounts of the historical and economic contexts of migration: the livelihoods, ways of life, entire economies and nation states migrants leave behind. The physical distance between centers of economic power and areas of poverty need not be great: financialized service economies of the large cities have made obsolete or invisible the land-based economies, eclipsed in political discourse the urgent questions of land ownership, and profoundly changed the relationship of “developed” societies to agriculture, food production, and food security. 

Virtualized land and territory in financialized economies become assets rather than spaces for living and growing food. Wars are fought over access to the land and its ”natural resources.” Transnational markets and technologies demand resource exploitation because the resources are exhaustible, often on the verge of catastrophic depletion. Narratives about migrants’ disregard for the conditions of national borders and labor markets elicit important questions about what kind of knowledge drives decisions about moving across the boundaries of the known, facing physical danger, and imagination about a “better life” structured around culturally and historically specific categories like citizenship and rights.

The goal of the conference is community-building within and beyond academia, in order to challenge conventional models of learning and action. The conference proposes to bring scholars together with practitioners (activists, artists, educators, etc.) from the Americas and other continents, to share knowledges about the way borders and boundaries shape nature and scale of political action today. We hope to create space for the study of denaturalized conventional categories (e.g., gender, tribe, nation, state, race) which now determine the shape of communities in the unsustainable world.

We are open to a variety of formats and encourage the submission of proposals for academic papers and thematic panels, but also for round-table discussions, workshops, storytelling, project presentations, performances, film screenings, debates, installations, activist-driven reflections, reflexive exercises, or other forms of interaction.

 Contributions could mix or match one of the following colors:


  • Imagined communities, deimagination, ‘new’ borders
  • Political organization, comunidad//society, tradition/capitalism and possibilities of dissent
  • Communitarian Work and ‘Identity Politics’
  • Peace and Conflict in the Context of Neoliberal State Making


  • Tierra, territory, place, location, state, land ownership, sustainability
  • Critical Geographies and Territorialities: Globalization, Nationalism, Internationalism and Transnationalism
  • Migration (travel; tourism; small places; displacement; ‘South’ as ‘Nature’ and resource)


  • Boundaries of Nature/Naturaleza: epistemologies of race and gender, science and biopolitics, liberal feminism and the ‘North’ as ‘nature’
  • Ontological boundaries: realism and aesthetics of the ‘natural’
  • Natural bodies and technologies of transformation/reproduction/movement, laboring machines; feeling machines, affect and emotion; robots or replicants


  • Alternative narratives/histories of the natural
  • Literary nature: alternative narratives, speculation, conjecture, utopia and dystopia
  • Social imaginary and (un)profitable creativity
  • Historiography and ‘creative’ writing, style and artifice, social history/history of society


Submission Guidelines: 

We invite proposals for individual presentations (250 words max), panels of up to three participants; 800 words), or alternative formats (e.g., performance, screening etc.; individual or collective, 600 words max). 

Please include names, contact information, affiliations, and short bios for each potential participant (50 words max).

Please send proposals for participation to boundariesofthenatural@gmail.com by midnight GMT-5 January 6, 2020

Please note in your submission any particular technical, spatial or other requirements for your proposed participation.


Important Dates:

Open Call: November 29, 2019

Deadline to Submit Proposals: January 6, 2020

Acceptance Notification: January 17, 2020

Early Registration: February 3-May 18, 2020

Registration: May 18, 2020




Professionals: USD 50

Students: USD 25



Professionals: 70 mil pesos (USD 20)

Students: 30 mil pesos (USD 10)


Unwaged: no fees


Organizing Committee

Olivera Jokić, English and Gender Studies, John Jay College, City U of NY

Giazú Enciso Domínguez, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

John Jay College, The Graduate Center, City U NY

Hernando Arturo Estévez Cuervo, Humanidades, Universidad de la Salle, Bogotà, Colombia

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