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Memory vs. Forgetting: A conflicting complicity



Memory vs. Forgetting: A conflicting complicity

Conference by Professor Remo Bodei, presented by the Italian Cultural Institute in cooperation with the University of Western Sydney

Respondent: Prof. Douglas Moggach, University of Ottawa

Eminent Italian philosoper Remo Bodei will give a talk at the State Library of New South Wales in which he will explore the questions of memory and oblivion. He will also examine the reasons why individuals and communities renounce or forget their past.

The lecture proposes a kind of imaginary chess match in seven moves between memory and oblivion that has as its stake the construction of collective identity. Starting from the experience of unexpected changes, such as the collapse of political regimes, it aims to show how the underfeeding of the official memory produces oblivion. Memory and forgetting do not represent neutral territories, but actual battlefields in which identity - especially collective identity - is decided, moulded, and legitimized. Moreover, every victorious power or faith has always organized a kind of “vertical forgetting” in the sense of superimposing itself literally on old beliefs in the places where these traditionally held their celebrations. However, the defense of memory’s preciseness also has an ethical dimension, i.e. protecting a more conscious - and therefore, more free - identity. The final move of this game consists of understanding the conflicting complicity of logic of forgetting and logic of remembering. Together, they operate according to the formula of “neither with you nor without you”. And despite their mutual bitterness, forgetting is just as indispensable to memory as memory is to forgetting.

bodei 1Remo Bodei was born in Cagliari in 1938. After his graduation at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, he furthered his historical-philosophical studies in Tübingen, Freiburg in Breisgau, Heidelberg, Bochum and Berlin. A great figure of contemporary philosopy, he is currently professor emeritus at the University of Pisa, where he held the chair of history and philosopy until 2005. He is also visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was full professor between 2005 and 2011. He has been visiting professor in various European and American universities (Ottawa University, Toronto University, NYU, Université Libre de Bruxelles, École Normale Supérieure of Paris, Universitat de Girona, Universidad Autónoma de México).

His scientific interests were initially focused on German classical philosophy, on Idealism and the aesthetics of the “Goethezeit”; then, in the last decades, on culture and politics during the French Revolution, on theory and the history of passions and delusions, on delusion, on memory, oblivion, and the construction of individuality. He has published on these subjects many books, translated into different languages. Among the more recent, the most important are: Géometrie des passions (1997), Logiques des délires (2002), Destini personali. L’età della colonizzazione delle coscienze (2002), Immaginare altre vite (2013).

He speaks English, French, German and Spanish and is also an active member of many international scientific associations. He is “Grande Ufficiale” of the Italian Republic and “Chevalier des Palmes Académiques” of the French Republic. Since 2015 is corresponding member of the Accademia dei Lincei for the category of Moral, Historical and Philosophical Sciences.

Douglas Moggach is professor of political science and philosophy at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer.

The talk will be in English.

IIC members: Free entry. Bookings: 

General public: $20 ($15 concessions). Information and bookings: 


Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Time: From 6:00 pm To 7:30 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

In collaboration with : Western Sydney University, State Library of New South Wales

Entrance : Free


State Library of New South Wales, Macquarie Street