Events to look out for at Barcelona’s Biennial of Thought

A guide to the most inspiring, stimulating, and exciting talks happening between October 11-16

Promotional image for Barcelona's Biennial of Thought event
Promotional image for Barcelona's Biennial of Thought event / Maxime Van Cleven

Maxime Van Cleven | Barcelona

October 10, 2022 09:22 PM

This year’s edition of the Biennial of Thought includes 200 international and local speakers and art performers, participating in 60 activities from this Tuesday to Sunday, October 11-16. The talks and performances reflect and debate on topics such as sociopolitical systems, technological change, and the physical configuration of cities.

Globally respected names in their field such as Svetlana Aleksiévtich, Yuval Noah Harari, and Carla Simón take to stages in nine different venues across the Catalan capital, but what other activities are planned? Here are some introductions to some of the event’s most interesting highlights below.

Tuesday - Future of Europe and humanity

The main goal of the Biennial is to reflect on major issues that the world faces, both today and tomorrow. Philosopher Marina Garcés does exactly that as she kicks off the event at Plaça Joan Coromines, right outside the CCCB in the heart of Barcelona's old town, with a conversation about necessary promises for the future.

The same stage also welcomes some of today’s most prominent intellectuals in the evening. Israeli historian and ‘Sapiens’ writer Yuval Noah Harari and Dutch author Rutger Bregman imagine ideas for a better future for all of humanity as they face the problems of today’s society.

To finish the first day, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksiévtich, known for echoing voices that experienced dramatic events in the former Soviet Union, speaks about a possible future for Europe. The Belarusian journalist also just received the Catalonia International Prize.

Wednesday - A democratic environment

On the second day, different sides of environmental topics are discussed, starting with an introduction to the near-zero city concept at Canòdrom, in the area of El Congrés i els Indians, north of the city center. After that, leading scientist Antonio Turiel and biologist Charo Morán take a look at the link between climate change and technology. They discuss the potential role and impact technology can have toward a better ecological future, and other topics such as human rights.

Carla Simón and Lucrecia Martel, both screenwriters and directors, come together at CCCB to claim the need to stop and observe the world more.

At the Gustau Gili Editorial, political scientists and lawyers gather to see whether democracy can clash with the constitution. They discuss what the main areas of conflict are and how they can be solved. To continue on the topic, southern European democracies get taken under examination about the way they dealt with the burdens of their past. The talks examines the remains of an authoritarian past, the strong role of the church, violence, conflicts and corruption that used to define these countries.

Thursday - Human rights in a digital world

Day three continues the topics of democracy, technology and human rights. In the old La Model prison, a debate takes place about the democracy behind public opinions, how individual thoughts turn public and what role the media play.

Technological and educational specialist Laura Malinverni invites experts to the same venue to talk about ways to educate talent and ethics in a digital era. As citizens live a more digital life, linking technological skills and human values becomes extra important.

German philosopher Carolin Emcke speaks in the CCCB about human rights and how society fights a constant battle to maintain freedom and rights.

Friday - Into the world’s mind

Talks about large sociological themes and democracy continue on Friday, including one at Plaça Reial explaining the instability of democracies over the years. Political scientist Adam Przeworski offers a balance of poor and rich and explains why the less fortunate don’t expropriate the rich among us.

At Can Felipa, Eastern European intellectuals stumble upon the literal borders of democracy with Russia. This talk comes right after one on de-globalisation. The process that divides the world again in different human dimensions could already be happening to the world.

In the evening, doctor and researcher Antonio Damasio shares the latest discoveries in the study of consciousness in CCCB.

Saturday - A changing world

The events continue throughout the weekend. At Plaça de la Virreina, the focus lies on the digital world. Philosopher Darian Meacham and specialist Manuel Armayones talk about living in healthy digital societies. In the evening, the question is asked if there is a need for new digital rights that keep up with the fast evolving technological world.

Also on Saturday, Caroline Emcke returns to the CCCB to talk about new forms of fascism. She is joined by journalist Macha Gessen as they discuss the need to construct new imaginaries of the future. Director Carlota Subirós reads fragments from Sontag’s ‘Seeing the pain of others’.

Sunday - The art of fighting

The last day of the biennial allows artistic talent to come to CCCB. Artist and activist Nzé Esono Ebalé dances with memories as he reflects on the colonial past.

At plaça del Diamant a digital economy beyond monopolies is imagined, where a winner-takes-all mentality changes into a more social and inclusive scenario.

Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch, reflects on the battle for human rights and explains the weakening of peace and democratic values at a global level at the CCCB.

More events are scheduled every day and can be found at the website of The Biennale of Thought, as well as a timetable for the ones listed above.