21-22 May 2015, Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

The purpose of this International Conference is to recuperate María Zambrano as an important 20th century thinker, and to increase the visibility of her work for an English-speaking audience.

The work of Spanish philosopher María Zambrano constitutes one of the most original contributions to 20th century thought. Her life, and the development of her ideas are marked, like those of her contemporaries Walter Benjamin, Edmund Husserl, Hannah Arendt or Theodor Adorno, by the crisis of modernity that culminates in the two World Wars. A Republican exile since 1939 from the Spanish Civil War, another manifestation of that European crisis, Zambrano understood that the collapse of Europe was a symptom of the radical demise of modernity and its thought systems. She would devote her philosophical career to thinking through that crisis and to reconstructing alternatives to it. That her critique of rationalism and totality was a direct result of her considering themresponsible for the catastrophes of modern times and the proliferation of authoritarianism, will not strike anyone familiar with 20th political philosophy as very original. What is remarkable, and highly questionable, is that her critique, despite its relevance, is so little known beyond Spanish borders, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon world. A similar argument can be made with respect to her original explorations of alternative roots of salvation from the noche oscura de lo humano (dark night of the human): her investment in a new anthropology of the human, where sacrifice and violence have no place and radical democracy is widespread; her proposal of a new aurora (dawn), a history lived against the grain of the tyranny of modern temporality, and instead attuned to the intimate, submerged times that memory and its ruins reveal; her commitment to the political reality and the metaphor of radical exile as bare life, a defense of the margin as a space of hope, critique and renewal; the heterodoxies in her redefinition of reason; the proposal of new philosophical paradigms to be found in poetry, and its implications for feminism. In short, Zambrano’s writingsprovide us with multiple echoes of many of the most important philosophical questions of our times. She produced the kind of seminal work that can productively illuminate fields and approaches ofenquiry ranging from democracy, totalitarianism, feminism, exile and diaspora or memory. And yet, her voice is oddly absent from most of those discussions as they take place in the English-speaking world.

The conference organisers are: Mari Paz Balibrea (Birkbeck), Francis Lough (University of Birmingham), and Antolín Sánchez Cuervo (Instituto de Filosofía-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas).

Submission of paper proposals is now closed. For more details about the conference, please visit Zambrano Conference.

The conference language will be English.

This Conference is organized by CILAVS in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Hispanic Exile, University of Birmingham. Supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, it forms part of the research project: El pensamiento del exilio español de 1939 y la construcción de una racionalidad política, Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, España, FFI20122-30822.

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This event is part of Birkbeck Arts Week.