The I International Conference on Women in Modern Philosophy ended on June 20 at UERJ – Rio de Janeiro State University. June 20 is a holiday in Brazil and we were in an auditorium at that huge building of Francisco Xavier, next to Maracanã, until eight o’clock in the evening, maybe more. Sarah Hutton closed the Conference with a masterful lecture on method in the history of philosophy, regarding the recovery of women on it. We were two dozen people interested in discussing women in the history of philosophy, on a holiday. The Conference was a great success. That was made possible only by the spirit of cooperation, solidarity, trust and friendship. Since the 21st, a concept has occupying my mind regarding what we have done and are doing: the concept of mazurka. I would like to speak throught this concept. In the first place, because there is something primitive in music, which is form, and secondly because dance has great metaphorical power. The mazurca is a traditional Polish dance that inspired collective dances and today perseveres in Cape Verde and also in the São João parties in Brazil. Its characteristic is the triple meter (measurement?), usually at a lively tempo, and with “strong accents unsystematically placed on the second or third beat rhythm punctuated”.
It is a dance that is also rhythmic among dancegoers: pairs form distinct figures and designs – there are never pairs doing the same thing in a mazurka. And the mazurka only happens because there is a link of confidence and anticipation of the steps to be taken, between those who dance. The mazurka is never a dance between equals, except in this: they are all dancing and trusting each other, that are, thus, part of the same choreography.
The mazurka is a joyful and vital dance, although for its realization it is required training, strength, discipline and a lot of collective spirit. This Conference in several respects, though not all, was like a mazurka. I would like this list of thanks to be read as one who points to each dancer as a partner who made possible this so singular joy of making philosophy with exuberance, rigor, joy, discipline and complicity. Only then can we hit the floor with our hand and forget that it is hard and rough and that reality does not care to intentions. One does not dance mazurka alone.
I must first thank Edgar Marques, my postdoc supervisor who certainly had no idea what I had in mind when he said, “Yes, I think it will be good.” He did it, I think, as a gesture of trust. In a very short time Gisele Secco, Ana Rieger, Mitieli Seixas, Ulysses Pinheiro, Tessa Moura Lacerda joined. Then I called Pedro Pricladnitzky to organize it with me. And it was the most wise decision I had. Pedro is bright, loyal, powerful, serious and very funny. We have embodied an unrestrained spirit in research and partnership and loyalty at work. Since I have a lot more ideas than judgment, I found a colleague who would have more sense than ideas, I thought. I was wrong, of course. The Seventeenth Century made us platonic or it was the place where our Platonism found the great joy of working in freedom and confidence. Hard times such as these we are living in Brazil may show to us some light. It is not the character that is forged in difficulty. In difficulty, it is the spirit that makes us not break and give way. We were the first Brazilians to submit research projects at the postdoctoral level on Elisabeth da Bohemia and Margaret Cavendish at CNPq, on line A. And our projects received the highest grades from the referees (I was so surprised that I remember saying that those notes were superlative). This filled the imagination of power and opened up a future that would, to a large extent, depend on us. The response to the call for papers was impressive and the scientific committee had to cut some proposals. I am convinced that it was clear there, if anyone did not know it yet, that we are doing philosophy on an equal footing with the rest of the world. I am thankful to those who colaborated as referees, each and every one of the scientific committee.
Christine Lopes arrived, as did Lia Levy. By this time in December of last year, we knew that Sabrina Ebbersmeyer Ruth Hagengruber and Lisa Shapiro had confirmed their presence. A Facebook call of abstracts turned possible that, what supposed to be an undergraduate seminar or workshop, became an international conference. That was the spririt, since the beginning: mazurka!
We did not have a dollar, but we had concepts, friendship and trust. High and appropriate standards and concepts, growing friendship and confidence in a research agenda that, as I am increasingly convinced, deserves to be explored by the philosophy as it is done in Latin America. Here we make good philosophy, too, because we are contaminated with this hybrid trace between two lines of force: the good European historiography with the analytical-conceptual method. The astonishment we cause is often proportional to the prejudices we undo. How is it possible that we have so many good works that they were not aware of? We are doing a great job in Brazil. To hear this from Sarah Hutton and Ruth Hagengruber is too important not to thank and not to tell it here. Neither I nor Pedro are used to this kind of recognition.
The second thanks goes to Ruth Hagengruber, the first foreign researcher to say “yes.” Ruth reminds me of Merce Cunningham, in a very precise sense: the commitment to thought as something that moves the things through a positive choice towards a “yes”. In the face of some possibility, instead of retreating, say “yes”. Cunningham has changed contemporary dance forever and I believe that Ruth Hagengruber is making something quite alike within the history of contemporary philosophy, with the recovery of women’s philosophy on it. And with a look that is both constructive and realistic. The Center for the History of Women in Philosophy and Science at the University of Paderborn is a reference and an inspiration. It was my participation on a workshop there, last year that started this Conference in my imagination. By the way, my interest in Elisabeth of Bohemia’s thought was pushed by, at first, with an invitation from Gisele Secco to participate in the I Vozes Femininas da Filosofia, in UFRGS, in June 2017 and, with Inara Zanuzzi, who helped me more strongly to go to Paderborn in last May.
The third thanks goes again to Gisele, for introducing us to Maria Eugênia Zanchet, who studies philosophy and is a designer. And that, from the design proposed by Ulysses, made the art of the Conference, taking seriously what geometry and the new use of words may indicate, at the early modern period. Eugênia made our Conference so beautiful visually that a lot of people thought we were just another fancy “insta” people. The green and blue are about thinking and horizons within geometrical limits. That is all. And all that. This Conference is and was worth more than any funding and any other ambition not genuinely intellectual.
The fourth thanks goes to the research funding agencies in the country, CAPES and CNPq. They both recognized the value of our, mine and Pedro’s efforts and work. From CAPES we received assistance with the purchase of airtickets and so, for the first time, Sarah Hutton was in Brazil and gave us a master class on method in the history of philosophy with the recovery of women on it. Thanks to CNPq for the recognition of the merit of our research. Merit does not pay airfare, but without recognition, none of it makes sense. The recognition of the peers, in judgements about our projets like the ones we had was a huge and unexpected impulse. So much so that when I received the congratulations of a colleague I did not know at first what he was talking about. Having the grades we had to our research proposals is something that means a lot, even with frozen funds and open accounts. Because it was worth it, it’s worth it and it will be worth it. Philosophy has another kind of value. And with that I approach the end.
Before, I must also thank Larissa Medeiros, who gave us a lot of strength, who spent hours surveying hotels, catering, snacks. To Ulysses, once again, for having taken prices and having banked the publicity of the event with posters and for the beautiful presentation about Rosa Egipcíaca and Estamira. It was one of those beautiful moments of the Conference. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Ulysses brought us Estamira to the place where we deal with eternal or everlasting things, such as concepts and the philosophical discussions about the reality – or not – of the time. Thank you immensely and once again, Nádia Junqueira, for her coverage work with Nastassja Pugliese, Yara A. Frateschi and Gisele Secco, for the Vozes project. Nádia Junqueira Ribeiro with the strength of Carla Rodrigues‘ research project. Mazurka!
There is also an affectionate and strong thanks to my colleagues and friends Ana Rieger Schmidt and Marília Espirito Santo, who mediated and helped in the mediation and translation activities. And the support, including material, of some of our ideas. In this respect and in many others, the presence and power of Christine Lopes was fundamental. Christine not only presented a brilliant work on Oliva Sabuco, as she was present, listening, participating, and making translations (countless times consecutive translations!) to all of us. Christine presented us with English butterscotch biscuits and chocolates that made we endure hours of philosophical discussions. Mazurka!
Edgar, this extraordinary colleague, as well as Dirce Sollis (Director of IFCH), Maria Inês Anachoretta (Head of Department of UERJ) and Marcos Rosa (Coordinator of Post-Graduation in Philosophy of UERJ) are a fundamental part of the assistance and institutional hospitality we had at UERJ. Yes, we had lemon, chocolate and carrot cakes. Besides good coffee, juices and teas. It was amazing. Eduardo Porcher was also with us and was kind enough to take some of our guests to their hotels. Only on the last day it came to my knowledge that they were a little apprehensive because the German state’s recommendations to the traveler to Brazil did not seem to correspond to what they were living. Brazil has become a pariah in the international community, but we had some great times with our guests inside the subways and restaurants, walked on foot and took pictures without fear. Mazurka!
In one of the days of the Conference, I arrived at the university and a professor asked who was with me there, giving institutional support. I said: Edgar Marques, Ethel Rocha Rocha and Lia Levy. And everything was clear. And after someone told me that I had lions at my side. I confess that I took time to understand. I think I should say Mazurca, but I am afraid they will say it is not to say Mazurca, anyway.
It is possible that I am forgetting someone, because a lot of people have been with us. And we can not always look at each and every one during the same occasion. I made a list of the institutions involved. There are many photos and certainly, I hope, there is much to be talked about, commented and studied between us and through us. As Sarah Hutton said, we will not stop now.
The times of relative well-being and abundance may have given the impression that there would be something easy or trivial in academic life and in the practice of this mazurka. This illusion I never had. There is something good about never have had anything easy, other than your own ability and discipline. The invention of a mazurka like that one, for instance.
Thank you, Danke, Gracias, obrigada. Nothing I can say will be enough to make it clear how full of life and vitality we are, right now. In spite all difficults we faced the selfawareness of this mazurka is what guarantees a path.
The institutions involved and which have made it possible, in many different ways, this Conference and this mazurka are:
State University of Rio de Janeiro – UERJ
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS
National Council for Research and Development – CNPq
(Science and Technology Ministry)
Coordination for the Enhancement of Higher Education Personnal CAPES
Paderborn University – Germany
University of Copenhagen – Denmark
Simon Fraser University – Canada
Bielefeld University – Germany
University of Pennsylvania – United States