Department of Philosophy

Jr. Res. Dr. Lidija Šumah

Lidija Šumah is regular faculty in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. She specializes in affect theory, hyper-structuralism, psychoanalysis, critical theory, early modern philosophy (Descartes, Spinoza), and German idealism (Kant, Fichte).


Academic Appointments

2024 (spring/summer): Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago

2024 (winter): Visiting Scholar, Centre for Sensory Studies, Concordia University, Montreal

2022— Researcher (tenured), University of Ljubljana

2020–2022: Consultant, DE JURE (Data and Evidence for Justice Reform), research program at the World Bank

2016–2020: Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago

2014–2022: Research Fellow, University of Ljubljana


Research Projects

Names At the Tip of Their Nose: Naming, Smell, and Truth (University of Ljubljana: 2022— )

TYPE: basic (philosophy). ROLE: team member.

The project addresses the relationship between names and smells, taking its cue from the tip-of-the-nose phenomenon, indicating a well-documented human inability of odor-identification. The project relates this impossibility to the fact that, in Indo-European languages at least, smells altogether lack proper names. We name smells either eponymously by relating them to their sources or synesthetically by borrowing their names from the other senses. Smells stand for lexical voids and represent the singular site of a universal linguistic disturbance: a universal olfactory anomia. The primary objective of the project is to examine the relationship between naming and the nameless realm of smells.


The History and the Legacy of Yugoslav Social Philosophy (University of Ljubljana: 2022— )

TYPE: basic (philosophy). ROLE: team member.

Socialist Yugoslavia was both a political project and a unique knowledge exchange hub. Although its intellectual and cultural legacy are increasingly researched and valorized, the philosophical discussions generated in the Yugoslav space around concepts key to contemporary social philosophy and neighboring fields remain largely unexplored. Filling this gap, our project is set out as a study of the history and the legacy of social philosophy in Yugoslavia in 1960-1990. We will focus on two main streams of thought, articulating two diverse modes of opposition to the dogmatic Marxism of the Yugoslav Communist Party, while maintaining a productive relationship to Marx. (I) Praxis philosophers, based in Zagreb/Belgrade, formulated a universalist vision of man as a self-creative being caught in a world of alienated labor, rejecting both Stalinist dogmatism and nationalisms. (II) The Ljubljana group embraced a structuralist approach to ideology and argued, via the concept of split subject, that alienation could be conceived as the very condition of human subjectivity. This is a pioneer research of the key conceptual developments within the two streams of thought at the crossroads of close readings and archival research, beyond the confines of national histories of philosophy. The central objective of the project is twofold: (1) to map the evolution of discussions about human productivity, alienation, split subjectivity and ideology and (2) to assess the relevance of this legacy in contemporary social philosophy. New historical and conceptual insights generated by our project will significantly contribute to the history of philosophy, advance interdisciplinary dialogue across the humanities and social sciences, enrich the field of (post)Yugoslav studies, and provide philosophical grounding for contemporary uses of the Yugoslav legacy.


Glossary of Affectivity: Baruch de Spinoza (University of Ljubljana: 2023)

TYPE: student/interdisciplinary (philosophy, classical philology). ROLE: co-PI with research team.

The aim of the project was to create the first Slovenian glossary of affectivity of Spinoza's philosophy available online. The philosophical-philological research updated some of the terminological solutions from Spinoza's Ethics and placed them in the wider context of his (practical) philosophy, especially his Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well Being. The project was carried out in collaboration with the students from the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Milano (Italy), KU Leuven (Belgium), and dr. Pina Totaro’s institute ILIESI (Italy).


Hegel’s Political Metaphysics (University of Ljubljana: 2020—2023)

TYPE: basic (philosophy). ROLE: team member.

The project constitutes an ambitious and novel endeavor, striving to contend with a major philosophical issue, which is even more significant because of its political implications. While Hegel himself defined German Classical Philosophy as the theoretical apprehension and thus the completion of the upheaval that occurred in political practice with the French Revolution, our contention is, quite the opposite, that we may be able to understand the world, but are still incapable to think political practice. The premise of the project proposal is that a decisive characterization of our predicament is also present in Hegel’s core conceptual operation embedded in his notion of the Concept. From the very onset, Hegelianism has been caught in a constant flux of affirmative and dissenting opinions and reactions, while Hegel's political philosophy has been almost universally evaluated as reactionary and misguided. Some commentators even likened his philosophy as the scientific dwelling of the spirit of Prussian restoration. Our contention is, however, that the original, productive and even revolutionary character of his speculative thought is to be found precisely in the dialectical relationship between the Concept and political form. Proceeding from the diagnosis that Hegel produced a conceptual turn the scope of which has yet to be fully apprehended, the project’s main objective is to define the logical structure of Hegel’s Concept so that philosophy may finally return to its basic task – to develop the conceptual tools for thinking its own time. In this view, the project redresses the depolitization of the postmodern shift. Hegel’s philosophical program can be regarded as an answer to the crisis of the traditional regime of thought, which in many respects reflected the political situation of that time. With Kant’s philosophy and the “Spinozismusstreit,” the crisis in thought became virulent, and produced a radical answer in the form of Romanticists, which advocated the shunning of rational thought altogether. It is against this background that Hegel, a consistent partisan of reason, tried to develop concepts with a different inner structure in order to think what understanding found to be unthinkable. In his attempt to provide a new metaphysics framework, Hegel profoundly reworked our usual conception of the logical form of the Concept: in particular, he formed the Concept according to the political model of agency and life. Against this backdrop, the research project intends, first, to take Hegel’s reanimation of the Concept seriously and to provide a detailed analysis of its novelty. By a careful reading of Hegel and his contemporaries, the project plans to outline the organological form of the Concept, its relation to sphere of the political, and the process of the formation of reason. Following from this, secondly, the project intends to delineate the novel metaphysical character of the Concept, which is embedded in the political form. Third, the reworking of Hegel’s Concept will enable us to rearticulate and conceptualize the traditional appraisal of Hegel, but also vitalize the field of political philosophy. The project will thereupon strive to intervene in contemporary philosophical debate, especially regarding the attempts to formulate a modern politics of knowledge in contemporary society. And most importantly, using Hegel’ speculative logic, the project will try to show how the moment of subjective decision is immanently ingrained in the form of the Concept. An important added value of the project will be the institution of research infrastructure for the study of Classical German Philosophy in Ljubljana, which will in turn promote the establishment of closer collaboration with leading European centers in the field of political philosophy and German Idealism.


Philosophical Investigations (University of Ljubljana: 2019— )

TYPE: basic (philosophy). ROLE: team member.

Philosophical Investigations: Return to Truth The proposed research program is a meaningful continuation of the program Philosophical Investigations, financed in the years 2015-2021 (and running continuously from 1999). The specificity and decisive advantage of the research group lies in its scope and inner diversity. The researchers cover all major orientations of thought in contemporary philosophy. However, in order to integrate this otherwise invaluable multifariousness of the group into a unified research program, in the period to follow the research will focus on one principal topic: truth. The main objective of the joint efforts of the group will be to elaborate and provide a more stringent and binding philosophical concept of "truth" to be opposed to the governing devaluation of truth-standards both within and outside philosophy. The general objective of the program, unifying all the researchers, is to rehabilitate a substantial, strong, and indispensable concept of "truth" against the relativisms od 20th century (postmodernism etc.) and denigrations of the 21st century (post-truth). In order to achieve this goal, the research will be divided in three specific objectives: 1. A defense of the irreducibly philosophical element of truth. In the first section, the research will try to provide the answer to the question, why philosophy is needed to provide a theory of truth. The research will proceed in three sub-sections: a. Semantically-linguistic underpinning. In order to develop an original and innovative theory of truth, a new field of research will be established: the original impulse of "truth" will be placed in the historical shifts in which the procedures of idealization of the traditional conceptuality disclosed the modern facticity in its de-symbolized, a-subjective, non-anthropomorphic form. b. Historical background. The focus will be a certain dimension of truth unfolding in the historical events in which the entire sets of truth-values are defined anew and can no longer be undone. c. Logically-analytical formalization and classification. The "new inclination of truth" will be formalized with regard to the classical definitions of truth. 2. Truth at the interstice between philosophy and psychoanalysis. The research core of the program is the original junction of the philosophy of German idealism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, as invented and promoted by Mladen Dolar and Slavoj Žižek. In this section, the hypothesis will be tested that precisely the psychoanalytical concept of "truth" can offer support and opposition to the growing dissolution of truth-standards in philosophy. 3. Social effects and interdisciplinary connectivity of the strong concept of "truth." The objective of research is to define the effects of "truth" on other philosophical disciplines, such as social theory, ethics, aesthetics, but also on non- or extra-philosophical domains.


Mountaineering Literature: Slovenia and Beyond. Intertextuality, Intersubjectivity, Internationality (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts: 2019—2022)

TYPE: basic (comparative literature). ROLE: team member.

“Mountaineering Literature” is a research project that proposes a pioneering collaborative scholarly account of literature written by mountaineers. As literary scholars generally privilege thematizations of mountains by canonical authors, while non-fiction writers tend to prefer the non-scholarly dimensions of literature written by mountaineers, this literature remains a lacuna in literary studies. In literary studies, then, mountains remain mainly a theme, instead of becoming a form-giving element: the focus is on canonical writers and their thematization of mountains, not on mountaineers and their autobiographical informing of experience. This begs the question, Can the mountaineers speak? In other words, How can we theorize the very fact that a genre as established and popular as mountaineering literature has hardly been theorized? Can this have anything to do with the fact that mountaineering literature engenders not only new mountaineering literature, but also new mountaineers? Finally, what kind of community is imagined in these books about the sport that may be both more lethal and more literary than all the other sports combined?   The focus will be on the twentieth century, the period in which the single-authored book becomes the main medium of the mountaineering culture. This is the century in which the focus shifts from the Alps to the Himalaya, and from climbing Alpine peaks to climbing even more difficult peaks in the same Alpine style. If the first decades of the century are about the last problems of the Alps, these are solved and replaced with Himalayan problems by mid-century, which by the end of the century are in turn superseded by the same Himalayan problems tackled in the Alpine style. Thus, the Alps, replaced as a problem with the Himalaya, reappear there as the very style of climbing. But once the style of the climb becomes key, style no longer seems to matter in literary accounts, as these give way to documentaries and new media. The short form of early twentieth-century accounts written for prestigious Alpine journals returns by the end of the century as the short form of accounts posted on social media. Between the journal article and the Instagram story enfolds the history of the mountaineering book.   The project will look at this poorly studied genre by employing three concepts that have been studied very well: intertextuality, intersubjectivity, and internationality. Applied to all Slovenian mountaineering books of the long twentieth century and to mountaineering books in any language they explicitly refer to, the intertextual approach will unearth the rich network that emerges once we look at these books in terms of their references to each other. In the case of mountaineering literature, this intertextual approach has to be uniquely supplemented with the intersubjective one, for as mountaineering takes lives and gives back autobiographies, these autobiographies in turn give new life, as it were, inspiring surprising numbers of their readers to take up climbing themselves. Finally, this uncanny suggestiveness produces an imagined community that, unlike the kind of community imagined in canonical literature, is international rather than national.   This will demand a threefold methodology grounded respectively in theories of intertextuality, intersubjectivity, and world literature. All three approaches will have in common the use of additional tools coming from close reading, life writing studies, narratology, book history, critical globalization studies, and postcolonial studies. All three basic approaches will also interrelate in their aim to illustrate the intertextual, intersubjective, and international levels of the network of mountaineering books by using the tools of network theory.


Varieties of Negation (University of Chicago and University of Ljubljana: 2018—2020)

TYPE: interdisciplinary (philosophy, psychoanalysis, comparative literature). ROLE: team member.

This project addresses the notions of negation and negativity in German idealism and psychoanalysis. Its aim is to analyze the forms of negativity with the goal of critically reassessing the conceptions of subjectivity in the two above-mentioned traditions. The project follows four key objectives: 1) to explicate the forms of negation in German idealism and psychoanalysis and to analyze their conceptual relationships; 2) to demonstrate the structural role of negativity as the agent of the constitution of subjectivity; 3) to conduct a comparative philosophical analysis of the negativity of the subjects of self-consciousness and the unconscious; and 4) to illustrate the modes of negativity and subjectivity with examples from German literature from the 19th through the early 20th centuries.


Postdoctoral research project (University of Chicago: 2016—2020)

The aim of the project was to critically confront the announcement of “the end of history,” which Francis Fukuyama made two decades ago to declare the triumph of liberal-democratic capitalism as an unsurpassable horizon, with the increasingly common thesis about the “return of history,” which emerged together with the current economic recession. Taken together, the announcement of “the end of history” and the thesis about “the return of history” delineate the external limit of the paradoxical “historical period of the end of history,” as this time is referred to by the proposed project. This “historical period of the end of history” is determined by two basic self-perceptions: it is said to be, first and foremost, (1) the time of the end of ideologies, and (2) the time of homogenous capitalist development free of any ideological metanarrative and hence any economic heterogeneity.


The Structure and Genealogy of Indifference: Logic— Epistemology—Ideology (University of Ljubljana: 2017—2020)

TYPE: basic (philosophy). ROLE: team member.

This project is devoted to the philosophical analysis of the structure of indifference with special emphasis on its conceptual genesis. The project addresses the 1) logical, 2) epistemological, 3) philosophical-genealogical, and 4) ideological-theological status of indifference in modernity. The scientific background consists of two basic hypotheses: first, indifference, far from being reducible to the inertia of the undistinguished, is the bearer of a paradoxical difference that escapes the opposition between the distinguished and the undistinguished; second, as the bearer of negativity, indifference implies not the spontaneity or arbitrariness of choice but the irreducible impossibility of choice, which emerges in the modality of the contingent encounter.


The End of History: Twenty Years After. Philosophy—Politics—Economy (University of Ljubljana: 2014—2017)

TYPE: interdisciplinary (philosophy, economy). ROLE: team member.

The project formulates two basic research problems: (1) the problem of the persistent operativeness of ideology in the time of its nominal decline, and (2) the problem of the irreducible heterogeneity of the various types of capitalism. On this basis, the team will critically analyze the two above-mentioned assumptions of the period of “the end of history,” as they outline the horizon of this intrinsically interdisciplinary problematic. From this starting point, and bearing in mind these research problems, the team will examine the history of “the end of history,” determine its key ideological and economic elements, and develop and critically evaluate the arguments in favor of the two basic research problems.


“Deleuze med Spinozovo Etiko in Kratko razpravo” [Deleuze Between Spinoza’s Ethics and Short Treatise], Problemi 3-4 (2023), 185-209.

“Koliko Etik?” [How Many Ethics?], co-written with K. Škraban, Problemi 3-4 (2023), 7-18.

The Final Countdown: Fascism, Jazz, and the Afterlife,” Filozofski vestnik 2 (2022), 69-88.

On Man’s Right to Be Jealous, and Woman’s Duty to Induce Her Own Demise,” Problemi International  11-12 (2022), 65-80.

“Geometrija gona: Freud, Spinoza, Adorno” [Geometry of the Drive: Freud, Spinoza, Adorno], Problemi 7-8 (2022), 171-196.

“Kaj je ukleščen afekt? Analitično branje kvazianalitičnega koncepta” [What is Strangulated Affect? An Analytical Reading of a Quasianalytic Concept], Problemi 3-4 (2022), 185-209.

“Politična ekonomija mesa” [Political Economy of the Flesh], Cukr 2 (2021), 104-105 (review essay).

Reason Inclined: Zones of Indifference in Schiller and Kant,” Problemi International 2 (2018), 119-142.

Fichte in Reverse: from Onto-theology to Materialist Ontology,” Crisis and Critique 2 (2015), 267-283.

“Manjkajoča laž: Schoenberg in Beethoven” [The Case of the Missing Lie: Schoenberg and Beethoven], Problemi 9-10 (2015), 117-134.

“Freudova teorija afekta?” [Freud's Theory of Affect?], Psihološki inkubator 2 (2014), 28-32.

“Fichtejev objekt” [Fichte's Object], Problemi 5-6 (2008), 85-99.

“Objekt in afekt ljubosumja” [The Object and Affect of Jealousy], Problemi, 5-6 (2006), 119-136.

“Ljubosumje užitka” [Jealousy of Enjoyment], Problemi 3-4 (2005), 173-198.


Editorial work

Spinoza, Baruch. Kratka razprava o Bogu, človeku in njegovi dobrobiti [Spinoza, Baruch. Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being], co-ed. K. Škraban, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2023), 260 pp.

Spinoza, Baruch. Glosarij afektivnosti: Baruch de Spinoza [Glossary of Affectivity: Baruch de Spinoza], Ljubljana: University of Ljubljana (2023), online edition.

Miller, William Ian. Anatomija gnusa [The Anatomy of Disgust], co-ed. J. Habjan, Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis (2006), 393 pp.

Santner, Eric L. Politična ekonomija mesa [Political Economy of the Flesh, co-ed. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2021), 73 pp.

Breuer, Josef, and Sigmund Freud. Študije o histeriji [Studies on Hysteria], co-ed. S. Tomšič et al., Ljubljana: Delta (2002), 386 pp.


Translated Books

Santner, Eric L. Politična ekonomija mesa [Political Economy of the Flesh], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2021), 73 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Antigona [Antigone], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2015), 73 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Eppur si muove, Ljubljana: Analecta (2014), 228 pp.

Burton, Robert. Anatomija melanholije [The Essential Anatomy of Melancholy], Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis (2012), 270 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Življenje v času konca [Living in the End Times], co-transl.?S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (2012), 342 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Poskusiti znova – spodleteti bolje [Try Again—Fail Better], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (2011), 485 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Začeti od začetka [To Begin from the Beginning], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (2010), 205 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Najprej kot tragedija, nato kot farsa [First as Tragedy, Then as Farce], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2010), 210 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Nasilje [Violence], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2007), 173 pp.

Miller, William Ian. Anatomija gnusa [The Anatomy of Disgust], co-transl. J. Habjan, Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis (2006), 393 pp.

Geary, Patrick J. Mit narodov: srednjeveški izvori Evrope [The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis (2005), 240 pp.

Žižek, Slavoj. Paralaksa: za politični suspenz etičnega [Paralax: For a Political Suspension of the Ethical], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Ljubljana: Society for theoretical psychoanalysis (2004), 186 pp.


Translated Articles (selection)

Žižek, Slavoj. “Kje je razkol?: Marx, Lacan, kapitalizem in ekologija” [Where Is the Split: Marx, Lacan, Capitalism, and Ecology], Problemi 1-2 (2020), 67-94.

Ruda, Frank. “Pogled s strani na paralakso med duhom in naravo” [A Squinting Gaze on the Paralax Between Spirit and Nature], Problemi 3-4 (2020), 179-196.

Pippin, Robert B. “Filozofija in slikarstvo: Hegel in Manet” [Philosophy and Painting: Hegel and Manet], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Problemi 9-10 (2017), 39-87.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Umetnost po Heglu, Hegel po koncu umetnosti” [Art After Hegel, Hegel After Art], Problemi 9-10 (2017), 5-38.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Od travmatiziranega subjekta do subjekta kot travme” [From Traumatized Subject to Subject As a Trauma], Problemi 3-4 (2017), 201-234.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Politika negativnosti” [The Politics of Negativity], in: Heglova drhal [Hegels Pöbel], Sophia (2015), 367-379.

Kremnitzer, Yuval. “Življenje na robu: beležke o Izraelu in kritiki ideologije“ [Living on the Edge: Notes on Israel and Critique of Ideology], Problemi 9/10 (2015), 155-172.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Subjek, abjekt in negativnost: heglovska kritika Kristeve” [Subject, Abject and Negativity: A Hegelian Critique of Kristeva], Problemi 9-10 (2014), 75-101.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Kriza, kakšna kriza?” [Crisis, What Crisis?], co-transl. Hajdini, Problemi 7-8 (2014), 5-30.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Komični eksces nadjaza” [The Comical Excess of the Super-Ego], Problemi 5-6 (2014), 223-244.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Glasbena uprizoritev ženske histerije: o Schönbergovi Erwartung” [Staging Feminine Hysteria: On Schönberg’s Erwartung], Problemi 3-4 (2014), 239-267.

Ruiz, Rosaura Martínez. “Freudovski duševni aparat: bioartefak” [The Freudian Psychic Apparatus: A Bioartefact], Filozofski vestnik 1 (2014), 149-163.

Vanheule, Stijn. “Singularnost in realno, ki ga ne moremo zapisati: Frege pri poznem Lacanu” [Singularity and the Real that Cannot Be Written: On Lacan’s Use of Frege in His Later Work], Filozofski vestnik 1 (2014), 131-147.

Žižek, Slavoj. “Mi smo tisti, na katere smo čakali” [We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For], co-transl. S. Hajdini, Mladina 23 (2008), 38-46.

Freud, Sigmund. “Pismo Israelu Cohenu” [Brief an Israel Cohen], in: Spisi o družbi in religiji [Writings on Society and Religion] (2007), 411-412.

Freud, Sigmund. “Pripomba k antisemitizmu” [Ein Wort zum Antisemitismus], in: Spisi o družbi in religiji [Writings on Society and Religion] (2007), 413-415.

Freud, Sigmund. “Pismo urednici Time and Tide” [Brief an die Herausgeberin von Time and Tide], in: Spisi o družbi in religiji [Writings on Society and Religion] (2007), 416-417.



09. 11. - 11. 11. 2023
Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts

26th Neolithic Seminar 'Eurasian Neolithics: How Cultures and Societies Evolve and Why It Matters'

27. 02. 2023
Faculty of Arts

Online presentation of University of Ljubljana for prospective international students

13. 10. 2022
Administrative Office for Doctoral Study, Faculty of Arts

EUTOPIA Citizen Science Clinics

15. 09. 2022
Administrative Office for Undergraduate Study Programme, Faculty of Arts

Reception for International Students at the Faculty of Arts and at the University of Ljubljana (two separate events)

22. 02. 2022
Faculty of Arts

Online sessions for prospective international students, 22 February 2022 at 1.15 pm (CET)