Delia Manzanero-Spanish Writer and Full Professor of moral, social and political Philosophy

Project: Teaching philosophy in prison

From the webiste Innovactoras

Delia has received the Innovactora 2023 Award. “I would like my work to serve to make visible the contribution of a writer of such enormous talent as Concepción Arenal, a thinker who has been a seismograph of Spanish reality during its most tempestuous periods and one of the most interesting figures in Spanish moral philosophy,” she says when asked how she wants to be remembered..She has received numerous awards for her books and essays on her admired innovator, who knew how to break the mould in penitentiary matters?

Delia, like Concepción, has taken action. The Development Cooperation, Global Citizenship and Human Rights Project: “Philosophy in Prison. Learning to think, knowing how to live”, which she coordinates, is an innovative project in Spain. It tries to combine the theoretical perspective with the practical one and is based on the realisation of periodical Workshops of initiation to practical philosophy in prison.Based on the work of Concepción Arenal, as a crucial reference to initiate an effective penitentiary reform in Spain, each month an existential problem (love, sex, loneliness, death, justice, freedom, fear…) is reviewed through a session of exposition and debate and another of a practical nature, showing the keys of its philosophical analysis and training the beneficiaries of the penitentiary centre on how to use these keys in everyday life to successfully deal with stressful or difficult situations associated with such problems. The workshops are led by professors from different disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology and law.

Her aim is to contribute both to the improvement of the individual well-being of the inmates and to the improvement of coexistence in the penitentiary centre. To this end, this project aims to provide the community of inmates of the prison with useful tools for the development of their life in prison through the practical teaching of philosophy, favouring aspects such as self-knowledge, decision-making or the management of emotions and impulses.

It is therefore an innovative project that complements the academic research on Concepción Arenal, which addresses, in a synthetic and personal way, a great subject, a controversial problem, and gives a major role to what we now call civil society, to NGOs and volunteers, to university students and to sectors at risk of exclusion; This action is intended to be carried out with the social sense that Arenal wanted to imprint on his legal works, that is, with a sense of critical mobilisation and solidarity of the citizenry in order to mobilise consciences, to activate civil society and make it aware of the most favoured, something that is at the foundations of a properly social and democratic State.

If you have been inspired by this project, perhaps the best way to learn about the solutions implemented and the most outstanding results is through the book Filosofía en Prisión (M. Albert Ed., Peter Lang, 2021) and the book published by our #innovactora 2023, Delia Manzanero, on Concepción Arenal. Claves de emancipación de la mujer que se halla encarcelada (Tecnos, 2023). You can read the interview made about her book, where she talks about the woman who helped to unravel the world of Spanish women’s prisons, Concepción Arenal: “Filosofía en Prisión, una radiografía en clave femenina” (Philosophy in Prison, an X-ray in a feminine key).

The media have echoed the experiences that the team of students and teachers have had in penitentiary centres: “A day in prison: philosophy against the fear of leaving prison”, “Students and teachers in prison: philosophy against the fear of leaving prison”, “A day in prison: philosophy against the fear of leaving prison”. , “URJC students and professors teach philosophy to prisoners: They need to feel listened to“.

Delia shows that things can be changed, bringing together those who can do something in a complementary way. For this reason, like the innovator Marga Gutiérrez, she has worked with a great team in the making of the documentary in which they show their hopes and achievements. “Philosophy in prison” .



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