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

Call for Papers

Boundaries of the Natural: Matter, Territory, Community

Límites de lo Natural: Materia, Territorio, Comunidad

Universidad de la Salle, Bogotá, Colombia

May 28-30, 2020

Puedes encontrar la Convocatoria en Español aqui.

“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. 

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 seek and leave behind. The physical distance between centers of economic power and areas of poverty are diminishing: 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 and water ownership and use, 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 a space for the study of denaturalized categories such as gender, tribe, nation, state, and race that now determine the shape of communities in the unsustainable world.

Conference Streams

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, and other forms of interaction. Contributions could mix or match any 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 and water ownership and use; 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, surrogates; affect and emotion; robots, replicants, androids, and others


  • Alternative narratives/histories of the natural
  • Literary nature: fiction, 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 in English or Spanish for individual presentations (250 words max), panels of up to three participants (800 words max), or alternative formats (600 words max), individual or collective (e.g., performance, screening etc.). 

Please include name, contact information, affiliation, and a short bio (50 words max) for each participant, and choose a color stream for the contribution.

Please send proposals to boundariesofthenatural@gmail.com by midnight GMT-5 (EST) on March 27, 2020. 

Primary languages of the conference: Spanish and English

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

Conference Official Site: https://boundaries2020.commons.gc.cuny.edu/

Email Contact: boundariesofthenatural@gmail.com

Important Dates

Deadline to Submit Proposals: March 27, 2020

Acceptance Notification: April 5, 2020

Registration begins: April 6, 2020

Conference: May 28-30, 2020


International  Local
Professionals USD 50 70 mil pesos (USD 20)
Students USD 25 30 mil pesos (USD 10)
Limited resources, unemployed  No cost No cost

Organizing Committee:

Olivera Jokić, English and Gender Studies, John Jay College, City University of New York

Giazú Enciso Domínguez, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, John Jay College, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

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

Social Media: 

instagram: @boundaries2020

twitter @boundaries2020

Facebook page: fb.me/boundaries2020

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/509591799635890/

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