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“Dialogues on Open Societies” series of conferences 

From January 14, 2019 until July 31, 20197:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 7:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.

Casa Árabe and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation have organized this series of events that will be lasting throughout the months of January to July of 2019.

An open society is characterized by a flexible structure in which freedom of beliefs holds precedence, and there is widespread dissemination of information. The concept of an open society is closely linked to philosopher Karl Popper, who assigned great importance to that idea in his book Open Society and Its Enemies (originally published in 1945). Popper constructed a theoretical framework based on a dichotomy in which the open society, where “individuals deal with personal decisions” exists in opposition to a closed society, which is “magical, tribal and collectivist.”

However, as human beings who enjoy free will, we are responsible for the norms which we defend in our societies; the individualism that characterizes open society must be accompanied by individual moral responsibility and an ethics of humanity.

At present, the advancement of populist waves of thought in democratic societies, violent extremisms and excluding ideologies, as well as the advent of the “post-truth” in the world of information, are creating major challenges for open societies. It is essential to begin debating and promoting dialogue on topics which affect the present and future, often by starting out with an analysis of our past. This is the objective of the Dialogues on Opens Societies which have been organized by Casa Árabe and Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation throughout the first half of 2019.

The series will be held at the Casa Árabe headquarters in Madrid and will consist of 13 sessions in all (two each month) on different subjects, which include:

- The Arab pillar of European culture (PDF)
- Migrations in the twenty-first century and world governance
- Islam, democracy and secularism
- The Union for the Mediterranean and the neighbors policy
- Migrations from the Arab world
- Feminism, religion and secularism
- The Arab-Islamic diaspora in Spain,  Europe and the Americas
- Liberal currents in the Islamic religion
- Towards a European migratory policy
- The geopolitics of conflicts and their effects on development
- Avant-garde cultural movements in the Arab world
- Regional Arab integration
- The alliance of civilizations as regards nationalistic populism
“Dialogues on Open Societies” series of conferences 
  • The Arab pillar of European culture

    The Arab pillar of European culture

    January 14, 20197:00 p.m.
    Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 7:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.
    In Spanish.
    First session in the series “Dialogues on Open Societies,” given by Josep Borrell, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Susana Calvo Capilla, a professor from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Emilio González Ferrín, a professor from the University of Seville.
    The event will be presented by Pedro Martínez-Avial, the General Director of Casa Árabe.
    The way European culture as we know it was made possible by a spirit of civilizational synthesis which, at the same time, has always accompanied emerging cultures. The term “Renaissance,” insofar as it means getting beyond an intended “Middle Age,” seems to propose an interpretation that restores some golden time past, Classical Antiquity, clearing away the fog of some “dark” intermediate era. However, more careful reflection on the cultural sources from Europe shows that this “Middle Age” was less transitional and obscure; closer to Orientalizing sources in which the role of Al-Andalus is highlighted, an atypical component of what historian Charles H. Haskins detected to be an earlier Renaissance in the twelfth century. A fair assessment of that legacy from Al-Andalus, as well as its transmission to the rest of Europe, places Spain and its cultural heritage at a privileged crossroads with connections linking Mediterranean and European cultures, and conveying them across to the other side of the Atlantic.

    Conference information sheet

    Josep Borrell Fontelles is the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation. An aeronautical engineer who graduated from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, as well as earning a bachelor’s degree and PhD in Economics from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Stanford University in California. From 1982-1996, he successively held the positions of Secretary General of the Budget (1982-1984), State State Secretary of Public Finance (1984-1991) and Minister of Public Works, Telecommunications, Transportation and the Environment (1991-1996). A member of the Spanish Parliament for Barcelona from 1986 to 2003, he was a member of the European Convention (1999-2002) which wrote the draft version of the European Constitution. Elected to be a member of the European Parliament in the election of 2004, in the first half of the legislature (2004-2009) he was the President of the European Parliament, and in the second half he was President of the Commission on Development Aid. From 2010 through 2012, he was the President of the European University Institute of Florence. He is currently the “Jean Monnet” chair at the Complutense Institute of International Studies.

    Susana Calvo Capilla is a professor of Art History at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. In 2001, she presented her doctoral thesis on the religious architecture of Al-Andalus and has recently published her first monograph on The Mosques of Al-Andalus. She has completed research stays in Cairo, Paris and Damascus. Her main lines of research, which appear in many different publications and educational undertakings, focus on studying the art and culture of Al-Andalus within the context of Islam and Europe, with a special highlight on visual culture and its links with the Mediterranean, the endurance of classical Antiquity, the transformations that have occurred in the Christian era, women cultural patrons and epigraphic programs. She has taken part in several exhibitions and was the main researcher on the project “Al-Andalus, The Hispanic Kingdoms and Egypt: Art, power and knowledge in the medieval Mediterranean” (HAR2013-45578-R), financed by Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation, until 2018..

    Emilio González Ferrín is a professor of Islamology and Arab Studies at the University of Seville. Having earned a PhD in 1995 with a thesis on Euro-Arab dialogue, his profile as an educator and researcher attempts to get beyond Orientalism in its interpretation of Arab and Islamic historical events. In this sense, his works revolve around three different core points: starting out on the basis of cultures and comparative religion, he analyzes the cultural sources in the text of the Qur’an (1) and what is known as medieval historiology, above all the entry of Islamic culture into Europe through Al-Andalus (2), then establishing a coherence with the present time in Euro-Arab relations (3) and the Mediterranean in general. He has published numerous articles, ten monographs on topics involving cultural cooperation with the Arab world and Islam, and books. In June of 2008, he was given the “Scientific Work for General Audiences Award” by the University of Seville for his articles in the Spanish written press.
  • Twenty-first century migrations and world governance

    Twenty-first century migrations and world governance

    January 29, 20197:00 p.m.
    Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 7:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.
    In Spanish.
    As a part of the series Dialogues on Open Societies, Casa Árabe and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation have organized this conference on migration, to be given by three experts on the subject matter.
    The session will include speakers Carmen González, a tenured professor at the UNED and head researcher at the Real Instituto Elcano; Georgina Lara, who is responsible for topics of human trafficking at the International Organization for Migrations, and José Luis Pardo, Ambassador on a Special Mission for Migratory Affairs with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation. Moderated by: Pedro Martínez-Avial, the General Director of Casa Árabe

    Migration is a reality today on on a worldwide scale. People’s movements are increasing in number and the circumstances which they face on their journeys require a joint response by the entire international community.
    We are currently seeing the greatest flow of migrants since World War Two, which is why international migration represents one of the crucial challenges being faced by society in the twenty-first century. New migration in a globalized world displays different features from the migration movements of the past. According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 30,500 people have lost their lives attempting to migrate irregularly, and out of these approximately 4,000 died or disappeared on migration routes over the last year of 2018 alone.

    The way migration policies are designed and implemented must take into account complex factors such as multiculturality and co-existence in societies taking in migrants, as well as the protection of the human rights of the most vulnerable: irregular migrants. The series Dialogues on Open Societies, organized by Casa Árabe with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, will arouse debate about the contemporary problems affecting both shores of the Mediterranean.

    Carmen González Enríquez is a head researcher at the Real Instituto Elcano, where she runs the areas of Public Opinion and Migrations. She is also a tenured professor in the Political Science Department at the UNED. She has been a visiting researcher at the Centre on Migration Policy and Society at Oxford University and at the Center for Political Studies in Budapest. In recent years, her research has led her to take part in several projects financed by the European Commission, including ITHACA (Integration, Transnational Mobility and Human, Social and Economic Capital Transfers), METOIKOS (Circular migration patterns in Southern and Central Eastern Europe: Challenges and opportunities for migrants and policy makers) and CLANDESTINO (Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable).

    Georgina Lara is a member of the International Organization for Migration with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a specialization in International Cooperation. She is responsible for the areas of Human Trafficking and Transsexuals at the IOM. She forms part of the PROTECT project, which focuses on protecting migrants from sexual and gender-related violence, as well as providing support to victims.

    José Luis Pardo is a career diplomat who joined Spain’s diplomatic service in 1993. During his career, he has focused on three main fields: the Arab world and the Mediterranean (second in chief at the embassies in Libya, 1996-1999, and Jordan, 1999-2002, and the Advisor for the Barcelona Euromed Process, UPM, 2005-2007), the European Union (Advisor for Community Affairs at the Berlin embassy from 2002 through 2005, and Assistant Director General for Foreign Activity and EU Trade Affairs, from 2007 through 2014), as well as focusing globally on migration. In 2014, he was named Ambassador of Spain in Niger, and since 2017 he has been the Ambassador on the Special Special Mission for Migratory Affairs.

    Photo: UK Department for International Development photostream