University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia U.S.A.

The questions of ontology - what is Being, how is it articulated in beings - are generally understood as merely theoretical abstractions that never reach the concrete world. It is clear, however, that the practices and habits of various secular, religious, literary, legal, and philosophical traditions are often grounded in particular and complex understandings of what Being is and how human beings are related to its unfolding. Because new forms of authority and power appropriate sources of legitimation grounded in specific traditions, it is necessary to bring different traditions into dialogue on the specific question of their respective ontological articulations. Bringing to light the different and various ways in which these ontologies (grounded in and informed by different historical traditions) enable and facilitate contemporary social, legal, literary and political practices, and how these practices organize power relations within cultures (globally and locally), is a central and controlling concern for our time.

Ontology is not just a theoretical picture; it is always situated within a given tradition (or traditions) as a determinate concrete program based on particular conceptions of what Being is and how it is intrinsically and complexly ordered. Traditions, as engaged practices in the world, work to develop and flesh out an ontological picture - ontologies are always and already in practice. This conference possesses three primary aims. First, to provide a space in which different traditions (and perspectives within a tradition) are able to identify, characterize and express ontological understandings and basic commitments about existence. The second aim is to analyze and trace how questions of Being (articulated within a tradition(s)) are expressed in specific practices. The third aim is to examine how certain cultural practices structure various occlusions and insights of ontological possibilities.

Conference Schedule



Mohammad Azadpur, Johns Hopkins University

Phillip Blond, Cambridge University

Ruth Groenhout, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Michael Hardt, Duke University

Justin Holcomb, Emory University

Eleanor Kaufman, University of Virginia

Basit Koshul, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota

Gary B. Madison, McMaster University

John Milbank, University of Virginia

Antonio Negri, Independent Researcher in Rome, Italy

Peter Ochs, University of Virginia

Joseph Prabhu, California State University, Los Angeles

Abdulaziz Sachedina, University of Virginia

Regina Schwartz, Northwestern University

Kenneth Surin, Duke University

Slavoj Zizek, University of Ljubljana

Registration for the conference

For inquiries, contact Creston Davis or Rocco Gangle
Religious Studies Department
Cocke Hall, University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904

Call for papers: Young Theologians' Society: Ontologies in Practice Graduate Mini-Conference, Sunday, September 15, 2002. (Proposals due May 31, 2002.) Graduate Conference Schedule


Sponsored by:

The Center on Religion and Democracy
Project on Lived Theology
The University of Virginia Graduate School Council
The Young Theologians' Society (UVa)
The University of Virginia