Rethinking the Limit

Co-ordinated by Luigi Pellizzoni

Pisa, November 29-30th, 2018

Centro Congressi Le Benedettine, Piazza San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno 1 (venue)


The first seminar POE-Politics Ontology Ecology took place in Pisa in October 2017. Its aim was to involve scholars coming from different disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, working at the intersection of these three concepts.

Starting point was that it is first of all in this field that one is to investigate causes, implications and possible outcomes of the deep social and ecological crisis of late modern, or late capitalist, society.

The 2017 seminar aimed at realizing a first opportunity of meeting and at taking stock of ongoing work. The participation of about thirty scholars active in Italy and abroad produced a rich and lively debate, well beyond the initial expectations.

For the second edition it was decided to focus on a specific topic. The choice was that of the limit – an issue the centrality of which in the dynamics of capitalist modernity has reasserted itself in recent years.

The following questions will be asked in particular:

  • Why is the theme of limit coming back to the forefront right now, and in these forms? What is similar or different to the past?
  • How is the limit issue thematised within the different social sciences and humanities and in the public sphere? What are the most promising outlooks?
  • What is the relationship between the notions of limit, scarcity, threshold, boundary, barrier, and what implications has in an emancipatory perspective a “social”, rather than “natural” notion of limit?
  • What is the relationship between the topic of the limit and new “prefigurative” movements?
  • What contribution to the debate can the POE perspective give? In particular, what are the implications of the spread of non-dualistic orientations with respect to the thematization of the limit and the critique of the existing order? Should one, as some suggest, come back to more traditional views of the relationship between human agent and biophysical world, or, as others propose, overcome the contrast between dualism and non-dualism?
  • What is, more generally, the relationship between the thematization of the limit and the perpetuation or overcoming of capitalism? What configuration and role can have the limit for the imagination and the realization of a post-capitalist society?

The seminar will comprise three main presentations, followed by ample space for discussion in which the participants will be able to develop the debated themes, also in relation to their own work through scheduled speeches. The speakers are: Mauro Bonaiuti and Marco Deriu, Stefania Barca, Onofrio Romano.

The seminar will be enriched by the exhibition Art-ethnographic findings from the Anthropocene: naturalcultural productions/diffractions from a Mediterranean ‘Fourth Landscape’, by Silvia Lelli, curator Nadia Breda.

To attend the seminar please send an email to before November 10. If appropriate add the title of the speech one wishes to give in the space for discussion.

Working language: Italian and English (upon request).