Intellectuals and commitments in contemporary times

One hundred years after the October Revolution.

Girona -Portbou, September 28, 29, 30 and October 8th 2017


Acces to the Informative dossier


2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the so-called October Revolution, a process that had a decisive impact throughout the 20th century.

The revolution and particularly the stance towards that new reality occupied the core of the debate on ideas and political commitment. Praise for, criticism of and reactions to that event and its consequences and influences shaped a real ideological battlefield that stressed the public role of the man of letters, the philosopher, the artist and the scientist. Communism, Nazism, fascism, antifascism, anti-colonialism, and fights for democracy, freedom and peace became, at least until the 1960s, the pillars of major struggles, both in armed conflicts and the intellectual field.  The emergence of new intellectual and political discourses in the late 1960s, the discrediting of real socialism and the triumph of a liberalism that embodied the supposed end of history dominated the role of the classical engaged intellectual. Nevertheless, the latent and clear  mbalances and chaos produced everywhere by the expansion of the neoliberal model opened other ways of thinking and new political attitudes appeared. This, among others, led to the emergence of feminism(s) and different gender and post-colonial perspectives and anti-globalisation proposals, engagement in conflict resolution and actions aimed at the reestablishment of peace, democratic memory and respect for human rights.

This conference will examine some of these issues to highlight the transformations of the figure of the intellectual in the light, firstly, of the impact of the Soviet Revolution throughout most of the 20th century and, secondly, the inherent complexity of the globalised world.




Thursday, 28 September

Faculty of Humanities, Universitat de Girona

Sala de Graus

6 pm Institutional opening

6.30 pm  Opening lecture  : Intellectuals and Revolution:   For a critical historization

Speaker: Enzo Traverso (professor of  Contemporary History, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York)


Friday, 29 September

Faculty of Humanities, Universitat de Girona

Sala de Graus


Morning session

Historical field: international scenario

9.30 am  Historical meaning, a guide  to inhabiting the present

Speaker: Amelia Valcárcel (professor of  Moral and Political Philosophy, Universidad de Oviedo)

10.30 am Coffee break

11 am  From the conservative revolution to  postmodernism, Heidegger and Arendt

Speaker: Emmanuel Faye (professor of Modern and Contemporary Philosophy,

Université de Rouen)

12 noon  Half a century of volte-face: the  "engagement" from Sartre to Zemmour, via anti totalitarianism and the new philosophers

Speaker: François Cusset (professor of American Studies, Université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre)

1 pm  Book presentation; Mari Paz Balibrea (ed.) Líneas de fuga. Hacia otra historiografía del exilio cultural republicano español

With the presence of the editor

1.45 pm  End of morning session


Afternoon session

Historical field: Catalan and Spanish scenarios

4 pm  Blue harvest. The ideologists of the national revolution (1931-1936)

Speaker: Ferran Gallego (lecturer in Contemporary History, Universitat

Autònoma de Barcelona)

5 pm   Intellectual commitments  in the Cold War

Speaker: Olga Glondys (postdoctoral  researcher, Department of Spanish

Philology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

6 pm  Coffee break

6.15 pm  Space and city in Manuel Vázquez  Montalbán's political thought

Speaker: Mari Paz Balibrea (senior  lecturer in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London)

7.30 pm  Presentation of the award 3rd Walter Benjamin Memorial International

Prize. "Recognition of an unpublished essay"


Saturday, 30 September

Social centre Ca l’Herrero

Carrer Méndez Núñez, 2. Portbou


Morning session

Ruptures, challenges and

the globalisation scenario

10 am  The radical emergence of the women's voice in the public space

Speaker: Elena Hernández Sandoica (professor of Contemporary History, Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

11 am  Coffee break

11.30 am  European intellectuals and the  movements against wars and for peace: a view of the currents and authors of the last 100 years

Speaker: Rafael Grasa (professor of  International Relations, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

12.30 am Closing lecture: Sheep in wolf’s clothing: organic intellectuals and commitment in the era of disaster capitalism

Speaker: César Rendueles (professor at the Department of Sociological Theory,

Universidad Complutense de Madrid)


Afternoon session

Open dialogue: cinema, memory and commitment

5 pm  Visit to the Passages Memorial and Portbou Cemetery led by Pilar

Parcerisas (Associació Passatges de Cultura Contemporània)

6 pm   Live broadcast open to the public of the Radio 3 programme "El séptimo

vicio", with Javier Tolentino and the group “La Guerrilla comunicacional”

Centre cívic Ca l’Herrero

Carrer Méndez Núñez, 2 Portbou



Sunday, 8 October

Route on foot Banyuls-sur-Mer to Portbou as a tribute to Walter Benjamin, with the artistic intervention “Emboscada”, by the group Nicomedes Mendes.

A project framed within the cycle "El Viatge de les Arts" by the Centre de Creació Contemporània Nau Côclea in  Camallera.

Departure from Portbou. Please register at Portbou Tourism   Office before 30 September 2017.  T. (0034) 972 125 161  Bus fare: 5 €


Conference registration:  until 24 September 2017 at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / +34 972 556533

Free attendance



The conference languages will be that of the speakers and simultaneous French to Catalan and Catalan and Spanish to French translation will be provided.


There will be a bus available to participants and attendees to travel from Girona to Portbou on 30 September, leaving at 8.30 am.

Limited seats.

Organise: Museu Memorial de l’Exili and Càtedra Walter Benjamin, Memòria i Exili (Universitat de Girona).