On Walter Benjamin’s Messianism

Public Lecture by Italian Philosopher Giorgio Agamben on June 14, 2019

No 171/2019 from Jun 12, 2019

Giorgio Agamben, a highly regarded Italian philosopher, will give a public lecture on one of his intellectual role models, the German author and cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). The lecture will take place on June 14, 2019, at Freie Universität Berlin. The lecture will be on Benjamin’s Messianism (the idea of a religious or sociopolitical expectation of salvation). Giulio Busi, a professor of Jewish studies at Freie Universität Berlin, will give an introduction to the topic. The event will take place in cooperation with the Italian Culture Institute in Berlin as part of the DediKa 2019 - Giorgio Agamben series. It will be in English, is public, and admission is free.

Giorgio Agamben, born in Rome, translated and edited Benjamin’s writings into Italian for the publisher Einaudi. During his research in 1981, he discovered a significant compilation of Benjamin’s works in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which had been thought to have been lost. Agamben’s work helped to bring international attention and acclaim to Walter Benjamin’s work. Agamben was himself inspired by the philosophical method of Benjamin. In his book  , he wrote that he owes the German philosopher his ability to extract interesting information from its historical context to bring it back to life and make it more effective for the present.

Giorgio Agamben became one of Italy’s most important contemporary political philosophers through his research on concepts such as state of emergency, life form, homo sacer, or biopolitics. His work has been translated into numerous languages. Giorgio Agamben started his career by studying legal philosophy in the 1960s in Rome. There he joined the intellectual circles around Elsa Morante, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Natalia Ginzburg and associated with Ennio Flaiano, Giorgio Bassani, and Francesco Rosi. In the 1970s he was a Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London and then lived in Paris for awhile. From 1986 to 1993 he directed the Collège International de Philosophie. Agamben has taught at the universities of Macerata, Verona, and Venice as well as in the United States, Switzerland, and Germany. His works cover broad topics such as voice, language, and writing as well as poetry, literature, and art. Agamben deals with society, politics, and law in addition to theological and metaphysical issues. His main work HOMO SACER was written between 1995 and 2014 and comprises nine volumes. In 2018 the Italian publisher Quodlibet published a complete edition of his work. An edition was published previously in French in 2016 and another in English in 2017. Giorgio Agamben has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize from the University of Tübingen in 2013 and the Italian Premio Nonino Prize Maestro del nostro tempo in 2018.

Giulio Busi is the managing director of the Institute of Jewish Studies and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Italian Studies, both at Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on the history of Jewish mysticism and Jewish culture in the Middle Ages and early modern times. Busi is the author of numerous publications, most recently on Lorenzo de’Medici (2016), Michelangelo (2017), and Marco Polo (2018).

Time and Place

  • Friday, June 14, 2019, 10:15 a.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Room -1.2009, Fabeckstraße 23/25, 14195 Berlin