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The Asian and Pacific Islander Initiative (APII) at PSR is pleased to invite all PSR and GTU students, staff, and faculty to its annual community luncheon. The purpose of this event is twofold. First, it is to serve the community with food, encouraging all for their endeavors in this new academic year. Second, it is to provide a venue to think about an important topic that might aid our theological and philosophical work. A meal of delicious Asian food will be served (free but RSVP recommended) followed by Rev. Dr. Boopalan’s lecture titled “Limits of Liminality: Rethinking Categories of Identity.”
Contrary to the Enlightenment optimism that particular human identities will give way to rational approaches in democratic practice, identities—religious, ethnic, and a myriad of others—are increasingly becoming rigid, nonporous, and unhelpfully antagonistic. Sunder John Boopalan’s talk, “Limits of Liminality: Rethinking Categories of Identity,” will build on the findings of his recent book, Memory, Grief, and Agency: A Political Theological Account of Grief’s Agency in order to propose how individuals and churches can play a positive role in an increasingly racialized American sociopolitical life.
Sunder John Boopalan completed his Ph.D. in Religion and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary in May 2016. His book, Memory, Grief, and Agency: A Political Theological Account of Wrongs and Rites (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), is the outcome of his tenure at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, where he served as Postdoctoral Fellow. Located broadly in the field of constructive theology, John’s inter-disciplinary research addresses themes and concerns in political theologies and theological ethics. John draws from anthropological and ethnographic data based on social practices in general and lived religion (understood as that which binds) in particular.
John is an ordained minister in the progressive Baptist tradition. He currently serves as Minister for Community Life and Theologian in Residence at First Baptist Church in Newton Centre, known historically for playing a formative role, among other things, in the founding of Andover Newton Theological Seminary.
John’s parents come from two different (and historically antagonistic) castes and linguistic states in India. He has lived in three different states in India, each of which has a distinct linguistic-cultural identity. He has also spent six years in the Middle East. Having lived in the midst of various sorts of differences, John recognizes the challenges they present and, more importantly, believes in the promises they offer for bringing people together. John is married to Ester and they are happy parents of a toddler. John and Ester come from two different linguistic and ethnic communities and, between the both of them, speak six Indian languages.
This event is co-sponsored by Equality Labs, which is a South Asian American human rights start-up working at the intersection of story, art, and security. Visit www.equalitylabs.org for further information.