Archive for the ‘IE Humanities Center’ Category


xxxDonald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Alexis Tsipras, Nigel Farage, Hugo Chavez, Sarah Palin, Geert Wilders, Bernie Sanders, Pablo Iglesias—most of you are familiar with these names. At a time of economic uncertainty, high unemployment, and fears about immigration, in which the world seems to lurch from one crisis to the next, we need politicians who are authentic, who are prepared to speak truth to power, and who know and care about the needs of average people. These are the people who should set the political agenda, right?

The reality is less clear. Recent years have seen a rise in populist parties and populist politicians across Europe and the Americas—a rise many people find deeply troubling. Why are people like Le Pen, Iglesias, and our favourite orange-haired billionaire Donald Trump becoming more and more prominent? Especially in parts of the world that pride themselves on their enlightened “liberal” attitudes toward politics and society, why are supposedly illiberal parties and personalities becoming so popular, not only at the national level, but in city councils and regional assemblies as well? Is this a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, or an omen for the future? And is there any difference between right-wing and left-wing populism, or are they equally problematic?

All students and faculty are invited to join us for a discussion of these questions on Thursday, April 14, from 19:00-21:00 in MMB 31—Room 801 (Madrid campus). All viewpoints are welcome, so don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

We hope to see you there!


9788430607303Manuel Lucena Giraldo es Investigador Principal del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) y Profesor Asociado de Humanidades de IE University. El profesor Lucena tiene una extensa bibliografía que se han ocupado de viajeros y descubrimientos, historia urbana, imágenes de España e imperios globales. Sus últimos libros son Naciones de rebeldes. Las revoluciones de independencia latinoamericanas, Francisco de Miranda. La aventura de la política y La era de las exploraciones. Es colaborador habitual de ABC Cultural y Revista de Occidente. Forma parte del consejo asesor de National Geographic en historia global.

“Un recorrido excepcional por la historia de España a través de sus objetos. Un repaso ilustrado a los objetos —de los más cotidianos a los más excepcionales— que conforman la historia de España. Desde un hacha de mano hallada en Atapuerca, y la Constitución de 1812, hasta el microscopio de Ramón y Cajal, la fregona, la bombona de butano, los vestidos de Balenciaga o el Guernica.”

La presentación del libro “82 objetos que cuentan un país. Una historia de España” tendrá lugar el jueves 17 de marzo a las 18h en MMB102 (María de Molina 31 Bis, Madrid)

En caso de ser de su interés, ruego confirme su asistencia pinchando aquí


matrioshka-maidanThursday, January 28th 2016, 6pm, at Refectory (Segovia)

Probably the greatest contribution of Russia to European culture, or at least the most acknowledged, has been the Russian 19th century novel, which encompassed as few other literary traditions the struggle for modernity as well as visions of a better future. Nowadays, Russian society struggles between past and present narratives, moving between official and underground accounts of her past and present. By confronting Russia’s past and present depictions of herself we might be able to discern which elements are still permanent of Russia’s vision of Russia.

Speakers:  Prof. Catriona Kelly, University of Oxford and Pilar Bonet, correspondent of El País in Russia. Moderator: Susana Torres, Associate Professor IE University

If you wish to attend please register here


The enemy within

Written on January 7, 2016 by Susana Torres Prieto in IE Humanities Center, International Relations

susanaBy Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School. 

Only a few months ago, almost coinciding with the concession of the Nobel Literary prize to Svetlana Alexievich, the world was remembering once again the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, whose tenth anniversary will be marked this coming year 2016. Rereading one of her last books, Putin’s Russia, which in fact was published in the United Kingdom and in English in 2004, three years before appearing in Russian in Russia, one realizes, in retrospective, a few important factors, and inevitably wonders what she would say of current Russian and European politics.

The first thing that catches the eye is that this almost posthumous book was a warning. At a time, 2004, when the West was enchanted and immensely pleased with the new Russian leader, Politkovskaya, whose assassination, by the way, was committed on Vladimir Putin’s birthday, was already saying that, beneath that enchanting figure, was a cold-hearted secret agent who only knew one way of ruling, imposing silence and fear as any KGB agent was trained to do, someone who would rather be efficacious and effective than remembered for respecting human rights conventions.

The second aspect is that her criticism stems from indignation accumulated at watching Russian people suffering at the hands of their own state, particularly young men in the army. It is an indignation parallel to the one suffered by Chekhov when he visited the penal colony in the island of Sakhalin. An indignation that constantly cries out ‘why does our government care so little for its own people’, those Poor Folk who were granted the rank of protagonists by Dostoyevsky and were satirized by Chekhov himself.

One thing that Politkovskaya was certainly pursuing, and in this she coincides with the Nobel laureate Alexievich, was opening the eyes of Russians and the whole wide world , showing to them that things were being done tremendously wrong by their own authorities, as she has always done in criticizing, among other things, the Second Chechen War. And for doing so they both chose a similar path: giving voice of those that were silenced, hushed, isolated. Our shared concern with free press stems from the firm belief that access to free and contrasted information necessarily contributes to creating an informed public opinion which will held their authorities accountable for their acts. Unfortunately, reality shows, in Russia and elsewhere, that that is not always the case. For someone who never ceased to ask them to open their eyes to the evidence, Politkovskaya might have been surprised to see the current level of acceptance amongst Russians of President Putin’s policies, despite his public requests for economic sacrifices and unpopular measures to come, due mainly, though not solely, to the extremely low price of oil, a crucial fact for a heavily oil-dependent economy like Russia’s. Pilar Bonet, El País correspondent in Moscow, was informing a few days ago that, in the battle between fridges and television sets, as some analysts would put it, television sets were currently on the lead. In a nutshell, Russians prefer to live in worse economic conditions but being assured that they are a great country.

Propaganda is an astonishing tool, more powerful than any numbers of analysts and academics might imagine, and it has little or nothing to do with reason. Maybe the flaw in the argument is that, despite more or less open access to information, availability and accessibility to Internet, at the end of the day, people choose to believe. Those with unlimited confidence in human reason are heart-broken when they see people just decide to ignore, for political, religious or any other reason, what reason tells them, or should be telling them, in exchange of confidence, security or any other unattainable utopia. Per ardua ad astra, the ancients used to say. Indeed.


IE Humanities Center is glad to announce that during the Spring Semester will organize a cycle of conferences entitled “Russia: Past and Present” directed by Humanities Professor Susana Torres and hosted by IE University.

Recent events have underlined the relevance of Russia in global politics and economy. The present seminar aims at presenting to students and members of the academic community several aspects of the recent past and current reality of Europe’s biggest neighbour. Likewise, the cycle aims at transcending traditional borders of academic disciplines, since it is understood as a mosaic of interrelated topics that will provide the students with a deeper understanding of past events and future challenges in this part of the world.

Program of lectures

Thursday, January 28th 2016, 6 pm
Prof. Catriona Kelly (University of Oxford) and Pilar Bonet (correspondent of El País in Russia)
Visions and Narratives

Thursday, February 18th 2016, 6 pm
Álvaro Ortiz Vidal-Abarca (Chief Economist Cross Country Emerging Markets at BBVA)
New Players in a Global Economy

Thursday , March 3rd 2016, 6 pm
Prof. Simon Franklin (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Pierre Gonneau (Sorbonne Paris IV)
The Historical Ghosts

Thursday, April 21st 2016, 6 pm
Jaime Dezcallar (Film Director)
Montage and Emotion

Date to be appointed
Ambassador Francisco Javier Elorza
Integration and National policies

If you wish to attend please register here

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