2020 Annual Meeting

The 35th Anniversary of the Society for Pastoral Theology

35th Anniversary SPT 2020 Annual Meeting

What is a Border?: Psychodynamic Reflections on Hybrid Identities, Attachment, and Exchange

The Society for Pastoral Theology has always strived to be interdisciplinary, crossing the borders of theology, psychology, and sociology. We have often wrestled with our identities. Do we focus on issues more relevant for the academy or clinicians? Should our perspectives be more about the self or the collective?

We are meeting this year in San Diego, a town that borders Mexico. Geographic boundaries evidence that borders are in part artificial creations. No wonder they are often contested spaces! Borders are both individually and collectively constructed and can both wield and contest power. Yet, almost no border is impermeable. The nature of exchange across boundaries manifests the power dynamics and the health of the relationships. Exchange is never unregulated.

Some persons, by choice or fortune, negotiate these boundaries, sometimes claiming the ostensible binary as part of who they are.  The complex, fluid character of hybrid identities – Buddhist-Quaker, Mexican-American, bi-sexual -challenges notions of borders as fixed or stable.

How are identities formed by borders? Are we one and/or are we many? Are there alternatives to borders, or are they necessary due to the human need for exchange and attachment, to categorize and to create groupings? In what ways do hybrid identities reveal the existential and moral character of borders and the entities that create them? These are disputes for nations, as well as questions of anthropology for theology and psychology.

Conference Information