I’ve just returned from London, where I was participating in the awkwardly named “Actuality of the Theologico-Political” conference at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Overall, it was the best conference experience I’ve ever had — and it was my first time in London outside of a few side-trips when I was studying at Oxford in undergrad. I reconnected with old colleagues and met some very valuable new colleagues as well (whom I hesitate to name, lest I forget anyone). Being part of such an impressive program gave me some serious imposter syndrome, but no one treated me like an imposter or outsider. I honestly started to worry that my imposter syndrome was itself an imposture!
The format was a bit rapid-fire — most sessions had three papers, nearly an hour each, all in a row followed by Q&A for the whole panel. It was very difficult to give every paper the attention it deserved, and I have to confess that there was one out of every group of three that I simply could not focus on, through no fault of the presenter or their content. As is typical in such conferences, white men were vastly overrepresented, but the participants who fell outside that demographic made a decisive impact on the conversation — in my view, it was a great illustration of the fact that inclusiveness is a substantive necessity and not the dread “political correctness” (a condition that was often over-diagnosed, even as Milbank totally got away with saying some ridiculous thing about how the West abolished slavery in the Middle Ages and then only adopted it again due to the influence of Islam and African society itself).
I invite anyone else from this general region of the blogosphere who attended the conference — and I know you’re out there — to share in greater detail and supplement my efforts here, hampered as they are by jetlag and various other afflictions associated with a wine reception and its aftermath.