Photo credit: BrAt82/

This past Tuesday morning, Professor of Political Philosophy and Latin American Critical Theory at Pontífica Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá) received a Kafkaesque letter that read (the translation is ours): “According to the article 28 of Law 789 of 2002 of our Faculty, we hereby notify you that your contract has been terminated without “justified reason” (justa causa) effective 28th of May of 2019”. The letter not only failed to list details and justifications for such an abrupt course of action, but the redactors of the letter remained silent when subsequently asked about its motives. We are convinced that Dr. Cadahia’s unfair treatment could become a new modality of university procedures against faculty, students, and intellectual freedom, which is why by means of this letter we would like to condemn a situation that is fully unjustifiable from any moral and institutional grounds.

We chose to publish this open letter at Public Seminar of New School of Social Research because we believe that Prof. Cadahia’s philosophical and theoretical contributions to the field of Political Theory reflect the principles of this institution, whose intellectual spirit carries the passion of thought in exile with the aim of constituting an informed and free inquiry in our dangerous times. Furthermore, the readers of Public Seminar might recall Cadahia’s interview published in this magazine last August that eloquently discussed the rise of progressive candidate Gustavo Petro in the peak of the Colombian national elections. The termination of Dr. Cadahia’s appointment at Javeriana University is a serious assault on this tradition that we uphold as the only legitimate ground of the modern university. A university that dismisses an intellectual figure like Dr. Luciana Cadahia, attacks the kernel of its mission, emptying all moral and legal commitments with the faculty and the student body.

The absurdity of this “case” and the “mystery of its process”, to paraphrase a well-known Italian jurist, is amplified once we take into account Dr. Cadahia’s important intellectual achievements and publications, which include several monographs, edited volumes, and academic articles published in the most important academic journals of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Latin America. During the week of the letter of termination, the publisher Lengua de trapo announced her new book, El círculo mágico del estado (The Magical Circle of the State, 2019), forthcoming later this month in Spain. Because of her stellar intellectual production and passionate interventions, Dr. Cadahia is highly respected and esteemed by a transnational intellectual networks of academics from Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Buenos Aires, or Bogotá. Although her termination at the Javeriana does not affect her participation in these academic networks, we are aware of the precarious institutional position that this decision has placed her in. This is why we not only condemn this obscure termination — which does not meet the minimum rules of discretionary power of administrative authority — but also demand the full installment of her appointment effective immediately.

Finally, we do not wish to end this letter without first mentioning the delicate geopolitical context in which this delirious and arbitrary action has taken place; that is, the rise of a new coalition of far-right governments in the region that, as one of their representatives has stated, wishes to ‘end, once and for all, with all the communists in Latin America’. The Bolsonarian lexicon shows the desperate attempts of contemporary governance to return to a proxy Cold War moment by intensifying the conditions for a civil war at a new planetary level. Here it is important to recall the wise words of a Spanish Catholic poet, José Bergamín (1895-1983), who, when interrogated by the fascist police, while trying to leave Spain during the civil war, responded: “Listen, I am not, and never was a communist; but what you call a communist, that I surely am”. This still holds a ring in our present.

Professor Cadahia’s case should set an alarm for all of those in the academia and beyond who seek to protect academic freedom, the pursuit of intellectual thought, and the rigor of research and investigation at all levels of higher education. The university become mere ‘machination’ (gestell) where a great scholar, such as Professor Cadahia, is expelled from its inland. It is because of this that we extend our support and our friendship to Luciana.

Gerardo Muñoz teaches at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department, Lehigh University.

Ángel Álvarez Solís (Ibero, México), José Luis Villacañas (Complutense, Madrid), Germán Cano (Universidad de Alcalá), Fernando Broncano (Universidad Carlos II), Clara Ramas San Miguel (Complutense, Madrid), Jorge Alemán (investigador y psicoanalista), Rodrigo Karmy (Universidad de Chile), Óscar Ariel Cabezas (Universidad Metropolitana, Santiago), David Vázquez Hurtado (Fort Lewis College, Colorado), Ana María Díaz Collazos (Fort Lewis College, Colorado), Adrià Porta Caballé (New School of Social Research, Nueva York), Julián Gómez (New School of Social Research, Nueva York), Sara Tufano (El Tiempo).