Margins and Peripheries: The Ecclesiastical History Society Summer Meeting

Date / time: 15 April, 12:00 am

Call for Papers, deadline – 15 April 2023

For virtually the entirety of its existence, Christianity – a religion born on the extreme eastern edge of the Roman Empire – has been influenced, challenged and troubled by its margins and peripheries.

In the history of Christianity, as in other contexts, margins and peripheries are intriguingly paradoxical concepts. To label something or somewhere as ‘marginal’ or ‘peripheral’ is, by definition, to declare it to be of lesser significance or importance. Yet for Christian churches of differing complexions, supposed margins and peripheries have often been sources of experiment, innovation and renewal, places where essential traditions have been preserved, locations of encounter, conversion and resistance, and sites where meaning and worth is negotiated and defined.

The intention of this conference theme is to encourage fresh and creative discussion of Christianity’s past, by considering it in relation to, and from the perspective of, a variety of things within it that historically have been considered marginal or peripheral.

The topic is a potentially wide-ranging one. Margins and peripheries can be perceived geographical entities, but they can also be designations of social, cultural or theological value, and involve issues of class, race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexuality and mental or physical health. In a speech to cardinals on the eve of his election in 2013, Pope Francis declared that ‘the Church is called to come out of herself and go to the peripheries’, explaining that he meant not just the geographical margins, but the ‘existential peripheries’ of pain, injustice, indifference and misery. Earlier generations of Christians sometimes recognised and faced up to challenges of that sort, and they were sometimes responsible for neglecting and misjudging peripheries, and for marginalising individuals and communities.

Communications of twenty minutes are warmly invited on any aspect of this theme, from any period of Christian history. The deadline for proposals is 15 April 2023.

You can submit your proposal using the form on our website: