Professors Simon Coleman (Religion) and Valentina Napolitano (Anthropology) have been awarded a Connaught Global Challenge Award for $230,000 to further build the U of T tri-campus into a world-leading hub of dialogue and expertise on relations between theologies and both the social and natural sciences.


The project is called ‘Entangled Worlds: Sovereignties, Soils, and Sanctities’ and will run for two years from Fall 2018. The aim of this project is to facilitate seminars, public lectures and visiting fellowships on issues relating to new populisms and charismas, the sacralisation of new and old forms of sovereignty and urban spaces, and the need to reframe received knowledge boundaries between the Natural and the Human Sciences. It will also foster student initiatives in co-operation with interfaith organizations in the Greater Toronto Area.


The four thematic Workshops on different aspects of sovereignty will focus on:

1) Sovereignties and Sanctities: Contemporary expressions of sacred legitimacy and their political implications.
This workshop will address the relationship between sovereignties and theologies in the plural. We ask: What are the political implications of claims to sacred legitimacy under current conditions? How do sensing the divine and claiming divine presence shape forms of political inclusion and exclusion? What might be the political common ground between groups who follow different theological inspirations, disciplines and imaginations?
Possible dates: 6-7 December 2018

2) Soil, Space and Place: Sacralising new nationalisms and senses of belonging.
This workshop will generate a comparative discussion between current and historical forms of nationalism and the claiming of divine presence/absence in space and places. Questions include: How do theological practices infuse the multisensorial shape of space and kinaesthetic experiences of living, and in particular of nationalist affects and belonging? How are material emplacements important in shaping theological experiences? How do ‘expert’ design practices have effects for minority/majority living conditions?
Possible date: May 2019

3) Saints and New Charismas: Investigating ancient and (post-)modern form of populism.
This workshop will continue the above debates to enlarge the discussion to exemplarity. What are continuities and discontinuities between multiple forms of charismatic exemplarity? Is sainthood iconic for the past, current or future? And for whom? When and how is political charisma is (dis)informed by saintly exemplarity?
Possible date: September 2019

4) Opposed or Allied Magisteria?: Theologies, social sciences, natural sciences.
We broaden our scope to include the natural sciences in considering current states of legitimating and reforming ‘knowledge’ during a crisis of expertise. Drawing on metaphors of sovereignty, Stephen-Jay Gould famously characterized ‘science versus religion’ debates by asking whether these two ways of viewing the world occupy overlapping or distinct magisterial of authority. We encourage contributors to examine the different linguistic and performative contexts in which religious and natural scientific claims are made—the very frames of legitimacy that underlie ‘sovereign’ claims to produce knowledge. We also ask whether the juxtaposition of theology with natural sciences has occluded the contribution of the social sciences to constructing public understandings of the workings of religion.
Possible date: December 2019

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!


Professor Simon Coleman
Professor Valentina Napolitano