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 - translated into Spanish and Italian) —and in many articles. 

Selected publications

- Zabala S 2022, “Disruption: Neither Innovative nor Valuable,” in The Philosophical Salon.

- Zabala S 2022, "PPPP: Pier Paolo Pasolini Philosophy, in “The Hong Kong Review of Books.

- Zabala S 2022, 'Inyectar Significado', La Maleta de Portbou, n. 55, 46-53.

- Zabala S 2022, 'Advertencias a través del arte',  La Maleta de Portbou, n. 50, 76-83.

Selected research activities

This year (May-June) I was invited by the University of Turin as Visiting Professor to deliver a course on “Aesthetics and Politics”  and research. I also delivered talks at the University of Harvard, Yunnan University, MACBA, Escola Europea d'Humanitats, and Käte Hamburger Kolleg in Aachen. The "Circulo de Bellas Artes" has commissioned an exhibition on art and emergency that will be inaugurated in September 2024. I'm now supervising 5 PhD, 3 MA thesis, and a Marie Curie Fellow at the UPF.