Humanities Discussion Series Segovia “Freedom of Speech”

Thursday, February 5, 7-9 pm at Sala Capitular (Segovia)

Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These were the pillars of the French Revolution and what nationalists in 19th Century wanted to propagate throughout Europe and beyond.  The right to freedom of speech is taken by many to be the most indispensable aspect of a truly ‘free society’.  But, ‘free speech’ has nowhere and at no time meant any speech.  For example, we are often told that, “you can’t shout fire in a movie theatre” or that, “you can’t incite violence”.  And, in no society is libel and slander—the written or spoken defamation of others by the utterance of falsehood—protected.  So, are there legitimate limits on speech that would still allow us to call it ‘free’?

In theory, most Western societies reserve their citizens’ ‘right to offend.’ You can publicly say, “I don’t like old people”, or “hipsters”, or make disparaging comments about “women” or “men”. But, in most European contexts as well, there are limitations on the right to offend, namely, in the case of what is seen as constituting “hate speech”. In Germany, simply giving the Nazi salute is a crime.  In many others as well, Holocaust denial is illegal. In Spain, a magazine was charged with ‘offending the crown’ for visually depicting the heir apparent and his wife (now king and queen) having sex.  Here, one also cannot “apologize for terrorism”, namely, that perpetrated by ETA.  By focusing on these cases, where the sensitive points of each society have been placed outside the boundaries of ‘free speech’, it could be argued that the insistence of Western journalists on depicting and lampooning the prophet Muhammad, despite the high sensitivity of Muslims with respect to the subject, constitutes a clear double standard and pure hypocrisy.  Why can you offend Muslims in Spain, but not terror victims and the monarchs of the country?

Are there dangers in conceding censorship on the grounds of offending people? Or is ‘freedom of speech’ a neo-imperialist façade that is used selectively in Western societies to mock minorities such as Muslims while protecting nonetheless what each such society considers sacred for itself?  In our first Humanities Discussion of the new year, we encourage you to use your free speech to decide what it actually is.  And, if we all end up shouting at and hating each other by the end of the night, there will at least be some food and drink to compensate you for your offended feelings!  Look forward to seeing you there.

Humanities Discussion Series “Liberty or Addiction: Drugs and the Question of Legalization”

Thursday, December 11, 7-9 pm at Sala Capitular (Segovia)

In the twentieth century, the criminalization of drugs, often under the pretext of enhancing societal productivity, became an almost global norm in states throughout the world.  At the peak of the anti-drugs campaign, US president Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”. In the twenty first century, however, not only have alternative views emerged on the question of drug consumption, but, for many, the focus has shifted to the damage to society caused by drug criminalization itself.  The debate today in many countries, particularly in Europe and the US, revolves around the pros and cons of decriminalization and legalization.  All drugs clearly not being the same, people are debating vociferously about which should or should not be legalized. But, in general, the question is whether drug consumption should be viewed as a public health or a criminal issue and whether the two perspectives contradict or complement one another.   Meanwhile, the ideological grounds for legalization vary a great deal, from right-wing libertarian pleas for personal freedom to left-wing progressive plaudits for cultural plurality; even certain religious conservatives have been willing to countenance drug usage as a means of spiritual stimulation.  However, the problem of ‘addiction’ seems to make problematic such feel good arguments about liberty and tolerance.  Hence, we ask, what is the right policy with regards to drug consumption and regulation.  Should it be left to the individual, to doctors or the police?

Humanities Discussion Series. What is ‘Terror’?

Thursday, December 4th, 19-21 at the Student Hub (Maria de Molina 31 bis, Madrid)

The words ‘terror’ and ‘terrorist’ are some of the most potent in today’s political vocabulary, but they are also the most ill-defined.  When someone is referred to as a terrorist, the expected emotional response is clear enough: terror does not recognize humanity; the terrorists are inhuman and represent the other of all mutual political discussion, deliberation and participation.  But, the attempts to actually define what constitutes ‘terror’ and who the ‘terrorists’ are almost always make it more difficult to sustain this expected emotional response.  For instance, ‘terrorism’ is often understood to refer to ‘un-authorized or un-official uses of violence to achieve political ends’.  But, with this definition, it is easy to see how one person’s ‘terrorist’ can become another’s ‘liberation fighter’.  In fact, the politically motivated terrorists of the 1960’s and 1970’s, as in the case of ETA in Spain or the RAF in Germany, often sported a Marxist liturgy and attacked in a specific and non-random manner to suggest to the whole world that justice was on their side.   However, the more visible religiously based terror of the last decades seems rather different, maybe more like all the school-shootings that also emerged in this period.  The religious justification and violence seems more about the display of righteous anger than an attempt to convince anyone.  So, should we put ETA, the RAF and religious terrorists (not to mention young teenagers shooting up schools) all in the same group?  And, how should we and our governments react to ‘terror’ and ‘terrorists’?  Should we ever talk to them, make deals with them, pay ransoms?  Or, does their alleged incapacity to recognize our humanity mean that we don’t have to recognize theirs, that we can put them outside the realm of the law, deal with them as we see fit?  All of which raises the question whether the response to the idea of ‘terror’ can remake us in the image of those we say we are fighting…is there such a thing as ‘state terror’?  The word ‘terror’ tends usually to elicit a basic, unthinking fear response, reflected in the color-coded ‘threat levels’ to which we are now exposed.  In this discussion, we want to turn the tables and ask what ‘terror’ is and what the right response is for us as persons and citizens to phenomena categorized in this way. – See more at: http://humanities.blogs.ie.edu/#sthash.ihzJZhzY.dpuf

Classical Music Fundraising Concert

Thursday, 4th of December 2014 at 6pm (Paper Pavilion, Serrano 99)

Performers:

Yi-Hsiu Liu, violin (partner of an IE student)

J.S Bach: Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005

Adagio
Fuga
Largo
Allegro assai

Axel Lübel, piano (International MBA student)

Ave Maria, Schubert
Nocturne, Chopin
Alfonsina y el mar, Ariel Ramirez
Verano Porteño, Astor Piazzola

Donations collected during the concert will be used to create care packages for the homeless around our city, in support of the initiative of November 2013 IMBA students and #IECares initiative.

Humanities Discussion Series. What is Europe? Who is a European?

Thursday, October 30, 19-21 at the Student Hub (Maria de Molina 31 bis, Madrid)

The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, an unprecedented honor for a political institution. And in fact, until recently, one could hardly think of a political and cultural brand more successful than the European. Even criticism hurled from the outside at the alleged decadence of the European lifestyle seemed laden with resentment and envy. The project of European union coalesced, after the two worlds wars and genocide of the twentieth century, as a bid to save all the good of modern Europe (the cultural creativity and material prosperity) from the bad (the nationalism and imperialism) that had destroyed it. The end of the Cold War and incorporation of the former Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe into the Union is only one marker of this amazing conquest of peace. All that said, the European brand has suffered severe blow after blow in the aftermath of the 2008 world financial crisis. Old internal questions about the democratic deficit in the Union have turned into existential ones. For, the EU seems increasingly divided between first- and second-class countries, first- and second-class citizens. More and more Europeans are asking whether the Union does more harm than good: is it actually a tool of solidarity and guaranteed future prosperity or rather the means whereby decisions made by elites and ‘experts’ are shoved down the throats of populations that would never vote for them? Should European nations give up their rights of democratic decision-making to a super-state of questionable democratic accountability? Could such a super-state actually ever be made democratic? We use thus the opportunity of our first even of the Humanities Discussion Series in Madrid to ask, in the midst of our very European institution, what Europe and being a European mean today. Is the EU our future, or our undoing?

Presentación de la novela “Siete Canciones Pasada La Medianoche”

Miércoles 29 de octubre a las 19.30 h en el Pabellón de Papel (Serrano 99)

Tras la publicación de un libro de poemas y algunos ensayos académicos, Pedro Letai, profesor de IE University, se aventura en el género de la novela. “Siete Canciones Pasada La Medianoche” es una reflexión sobre la edad y sobre todo aquello que afecta interiormente al ser humano. El amor, la amistad y un extenso mundo de esas relaciones que van apareciendo en nuestra vida y dejan su poso de alegría, pena, ilusión y desilusión. El autor repasa la vida desde el escepticismo de un periodista que busca su lugar definitivo. La obra refleja la influencia de cosas tan diferentes como el fútbol o la poesía; la música, siempre presente, el periodismo.

El acto tendrá formato de mesa redonda e intervendrán, además del autor de la obra, D. Felix Valdivieso, Director de Comunicación del IE, y D. Ricardo González, Director de la editorial noVelnoBel VB comunicación. El debate estará moderado por Dña. Arantza de Areilza, Decana de Humanidades y Relaciones Internacionales del IE.

En caso de ser de su interés, ruego confirme su asistencia en HumanitiesCenter@ie.edu

Mesa redonda “Literatura infantil y Diversidad”

Jueves 23 de Octubre a las 19 horas en el Aula E-108 (Maria de Molina 4)

Durante las últimas décadas la Diversidad ha ido adquiriendo relevancia, como demuestra el hecho que la mayoría de las más prestigiosas universidades americanas lo han incorporado como campo de estudio, creando un departamento propio. Más reciente ha sido su llegada a gran parte de la sociedad, que poco a poco ha ido cogiendo conciencia. Un aspecto vital ha sido la apuesta del mundo editorial por este campo, que paulatinamente ha ido incorporando la diversidad a sus diferentes géneros. Uno de los más recientes es la literatura infantil, que además de la vertiente artística también cumple una misión pedagógica.

La mesa redonda estará compuesta por el escritor Lawrence Schimel, la ilustradora Olga de Dios y el filólogo Javier Alonso. El acto será moderado por el profesor Vincent Doyle e introducido por la profesora Margarita Alonso, quien presentará su investigación sobre educación y diversidad.

IE Humanities Discussion Series. Does the Burqa Take Away Our Freedoms?

Tuesday, October 21 at 7 pm (Segovia)

The 21st Century seems to have started with a ‘clash of civilizations’ between the West and the Muslim world. The ‘burqa’, a garment that completely covers the female body except for the eyes, at times even occluding those, has become a symbolic flashpoint of this purported civilizational clash. For many in Europe, the burqa not only robs the women who they see as coerced to wear it of their freedom. It is seen, more broadly, as a sign of misogyny in Muslim countries and of the capacity of Islam in this context to turn women into second-class citizens. For others in Europe, the burqa represents by contrast precisely the freedom to excersise one’s religion according to one’s beliefs, without circumventing others from doing the same. Hence, the question of the ‘burqa’ is today at the forefront of what personal, political and religious freedom mean and who should define them. Those who advocate the banning of the ‘burqa’ point to it to justify claims about Islam and Islamic traditions as intrinsically incompatible with the liberal, secular, and democratic society that exists in Europe today. Those who oppose such bans see them instead as mere hypocrisy on the part of liberals who do to Muslims what they accuse them of doing to others: imposing a uniform that goes against deeply held beliefs. In our dicussion we will ask not only about extent to which the ‘burqa’ represents Islam and is a symbol of the repression of women, but also the kind of plurality and diversity that our idea of freedom can or must tolerate. Two IE students will begin our discussion by providing opposed points of view on this question and our conversation will follow their introductory presentations. The Humanities Discussion Series has become a forum, whereby students come together alongside faculty to move beyond the easy comfort of their own beliefs, to share and think through their differing ideas within an atmosphere of informed discussion and debate. We invite you, in this spirit, to talk though what you take religious and political freedom to mean today.

Europe, Education and Innovation

Saturday 27 September 2014, 1.30pm • Venue: Aula Magna (Segovia)

Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes) is a British politician, Chancellor of Oxford University and head​ of the Vatican’s communications and media team. ​Previously, he was an​ EU commissioner, the last governor of Hong Kong, and chair of the BBC. He talks to Santiago Iñiguez, president of IE University, and Javier Moreno, journalist and former editor (2006–2014) of El País. The event is introduced by Revel Guest, Chair of the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts.

Global Issues cannot be resolved without the Humanities

Saturday 27 September 2014, 12pm • Venue: Refectorio (Segovia)

Michael Steinberg and Paul Smith in conversation with DD Guttenplan. Michael Steinberg, Professor of History & Music and Director of Cogut Humanities Center at Brown University, and Paul Smith (OBE), Director British Council USA, talk to DD Guttenplan, journalist and educator, contributor to the International New York Times and correspondent to The Nation, about the need to keep the humanities at the centre of the university equation, and how art and culture can make us better people. The event is introduced by IE’s Humanities Academic Director Rolf Strom-Olsen.