Santiago Zabala

Santiago Zabala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra


I was raised in Rome, Vienna, and Geneva and studied philosophy at the University of Turin and at the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome, where I obtained my PhD in 2006. The following year I was awarded the Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Potsdam for two years. After a visiting scholarship in 2010 at Johns Hopkins University, I was appointed ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona. Since 2015 I am ICREA Research Professor at Pompeu Fabra University, where I currently teach contemporary and political philosophy and supervise PhD students. I am also the founding director of the "UPF Center for Vattimo’s Archives and Philosophy." My writing has appeared in The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Research interests

My books, articles, and research focus on the meaning of art, politics, and freedom in the twenty-first century where, as I claim, “the greatest emergency has become the absence of emergency.” The goal of philosophy is to thrust us into these absent emergencies (such as climate change or economic inequality) in order to disrupt the ongoing “return to order” that surveillance capitalism and right-wing populism are imposing upon us. These problems are discussed in my most recent book—Being at Large: Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020) —and in many articles. This year the Journal Lebenswelt published four critical essays with my responses on my theory of emergency exposed in my 2017 Columbia University Press book Why Only Art can Save Us. Aesthetics and the Absence of Emergency.

Selected publications

Santiago Zabala 2020, Being at Large: Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal.

Santiago Zabala (Ed.), Book Series at Bellaterra: Andityas Soares de Moura Costa Matos ​and​ Francis García Collado​, E​l​ V​irus​como ​​Filosofia, la filosofia como virus. Reflexiones de emergencia sobre la pandemia de COVID-19 (Barcelona, Bellaterra, 2020).

Santiago Zabala, “Response to Angelucci,” “Response to Perniola,” “Response to Boetzkes,” and “Response to Kottman” in  the Forum on Zabala’s “Why Only Art Can Save Us” edited by D. Angelucci in “Lebenswelt. Aesthetics and Philosophy of Experience,” N. 15, 2019: 114-155.

Santiago Zabala, “Imagining a Philosophy of Warnings for Our Greatest Emergency” in Philosophy Today, Volume 64, Issue 4 (Fall 2020): 1-5.

Zabala S 2020, ‘Scots and Catalans: Union and Disunion’, Common Knowledge, 26, 3, 439 – 440.


Selected research activities

This year I continued my collaboration with the European School of Humanities directed by Josep Ramoneda. Among other activities we also organized a seminar on the problem of aging with several other Icrea professors. In the Spring I was invited by the University of Turin to give a talk on emergency and the pandemic. In the Fall I was invited to two festivals of philosophy: HowThe LightGetsIn Global Festival in London and Ciutat Oberta: Biennal de Pensament in Barcelona. Both the Journal La Metata de Portbou and Minerva has published articles of mine in 2020.