Arts Week 2015: ‘Invisible’ philosopher Zambrano brought into focus

The work and legacy of Spanish philosopher and essayist, Maria Zambrano, will be explored in a two-day conference at Birkbeck, University of London, next week.

Maria Zambrano conferenceHer philosophical standpoints and impactful writing will be discussed during Birkbeck Arts Week at a conference – Maria Zambrano amongst the Philosophers: A Reconsiderationheld in Birkbeck’s School of Arts, Gordon Square, on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 May. Places at the free-to-attend conference are still available.

Zambrano (1904-1991), who was associated with the Generation of ’36 movement of artists, poets and playwrights who worked at the time of the Spanish Civil War, wrote extensively on the theme of what she called “poetic reasoning”.

Influenced by philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, Zambrano’s work often reflected on hope and the importance of the divine in human life. She was exiled from her motherland by dictator Francisco Franco during the Civil War, but eventually returned to Madrid in 1984.

While considered by many to constitute one of the most original contributions to 20th Century thought, Zambrano’s work remains largely unknown to Anglo-Saxon academia – a factor which the conference seeks to highlight.

During the conference, five panels of scholars will discuss different aspects of Zambrano’s philosophical connections to 20th Century thought. Keynote speeches opening and closing the event will be delivered by Professors Roberta Johnson (University of Kansas) and Ricardo Tejada (Université du Maine, Le Mans).

Scholars attending the event will hail from France, USA, Belgium, UK, Spain and Sweden. During the conference there will also be a book launch of Zambrano’s Complete Works in Spanish, presented by its editor.

Dr Mari Paz Balibrea Enriquez, senior lecturer in Modern Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, who is coordinating the conference, said:

“This conference aims to spark interest in an intellectual who remains largely invisible to the Anglo-Saxon academia. Zambrano has a lot to offer to scholars, not only in philosophy, but in the Humanities as a whole.


“Her work speaks to a wide range of intellectual fields. She produced the kind of seminal work that can productively illuminate fields and approaches of enquiry 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.”

Maria Zambrano amongst the Philosophers: A Reconsideration runs at the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square on Thursday, May 21, and Room GORB04 on Friday, May 22. Both days run from 8.30am to 5.15pm

The conference is part of Birkbeck Arts Week, which runs in and around Bloomsbury from Monday 18 to Saturday 23 May. To book a free place at the event, and to view the full programme of Arts events, visit



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