Religion on the Borders virtual symposium featured interdisciplinary discussions of border spaces

Elon faculty members and visiting scholars participated in the third ‘On the Edge’ symposium organized by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society

The Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society (CSRCS) hosted a virtual symposium from Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 titled, “Religion on the Borders,” which was the third installation in center’s bi-annual On the Edge series. Papers on this year’s theme included the study of modern and pre-modern border spaces across various disciplines.

Panels and lectures involved Elon faculty, along with 11 scholars from three countries and a range of disciplines. Elon faculty organizers included Associate Professor Evan Gatti (Art History), Assistant Professor Sandy Marshall (Geography), Associate Professor Amy Allocco (Religious Studies), Visiting Assistant Professor Shayna Mehas (History), and Professor Brian Pennington (Religious Studies), the center’s director.

The Thursday keynote address was given by Leah Sarat of Arizona State University. Her lecture was titled, “The Terror of ‘Safety’: Christianity, Immigrant Policing, and Detention at the Nation’s Edge.” It examined the experiences and perspectives of two different Christians with very different experiences of the US/Mexico border: a detention facility chaplain and a Mexican detainee. A video recording of the keynote address is available to members of the Elon community by emailing

Participants in the symposium will now collaborate to develop a set of scholarly publications based on the research presented during the event.

To further raise awareness of life at the US/Mexico border, the CSRCS has installed a photography exhibit by the Sierra Club, “Lens on the Border,” in the buildings of the Lambert Academic Village to coincide with the symposium. Twenty-four canvas prints along with Elon student photos from course experiences along the U.S.-Mexico borders are displayed in hallways and common areas of buildings in the Lambert Academic Village. Student photos are inside the sacred space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion. Other photos are in Gray Pavillion, Cannon Pavillion, Spence Pavillion, and Lindner Hall. A Storymap guide to the exhibition is available here.

The exhibition will remain throughout February, and the Elon community is encouraged to tour the buildings and see the photos. The display of Lens on the Border on campus is supported by the Elon College Fund for Excellence.