This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 823998.


The academic year 2018-2019 saw the launch of the project “FAILURE: Reversing the Genealogies of Unsuccess, 16th-19th centuries”, coordinated by MIAS within the framework of the H2020-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme within the RISE call (Grant Agreement number 823998), financed by the European Commission (EU funded: 1,301,800.00 €). This project allows MIAS researchers to participate in international seminars with an interdisciplinary vocation in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences. Now, after the pandemic break, we find the proyect in a second stage that will last until its end in 2024.

REVFAIL is a RISE (Research and Innovation Staff Exchange) network coordinated by the Madrid Institute for Advanced Study. It brings together 11 participants in 10 different countries of Europe and the Americas and it is designed to offer pathbreaking insights on failure on an interdisciplinary, transnational perspective. REVFAIL moreover aims to provide critical tools to analyse and revert self-imposed and external narratives of failure.

The dynamics between inclusiveness and the failure to integrate is not only a key social problem of our present, but also one with deep historical and philosophical roots. Discourses on failure are present in many aspects of contemporary societies, and range from those regarding the individual entrepreneur, to programs to minimize the failure of regional economies at the expense of larger and more populated areas, and ideas on international leadership. But quantitative approaches to development and integration need to be supplemented with critical awareness of the consequences of attributing failure to groups, individuals or even nations (sometimes as a covered synonym in racist and Eurocentric discourse).

Inclusiveness, and integration in all social institutions are challenges that demand reassessing the criteria used to identify failure. At the same time, it is necessary to promote a clear understanding of the temporary nature of failure and the possibilities of reversing and challenging it. These reversals are both a matter of fact and the result of changes in social conceptions of success, taste and well-being. While failure is a heavy and paralyzing category, a concept crafted to perpetuate colonial dominion and legitimize inequalities, positive psychology, engineering and philosophy among other disciplines have nevertheless pointed to several positive aspects and effects of failure and recovery.

The REVFAIL project is organized in four different analytical layers (WPs 1-4) and will implement a broad communicative strategy to facilitate transfer of knowledge within the network and dissemination of results to different publics: 

  • WP1 deals with philosophical concepts and discursive practices related to failure. 
  • WP2 examines narratives of individual failure, as manifested by the particularly rich and direct testimony of ego documents and (auto)biographical accounts. 
  • WP3 refers to communal attributions of failure and stigmatized groups that are particularly prone to be identified with failure. 
  • WP4 analyses the phenomenon at the level of complex polities (including diplomatic relationships) and abstract notions (such as economic or large-scale educational programs). 
  • WP5 is a comprehensive strategy for dissemination and communication and aims to raise awareness within society at large as to the relevance of this topic. 

Partner network

European Institutions

1- Madrid Institute for Advanced Study MIAS (Coordinator)
2 - Universidad Autónoma de Madrid UAM
3 - Casa de Velázquez CVZ
4 - Universidade Nova de Lisboa - CHAM UNL
5 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales EHESS, París
6 - Círculo de Bellas Artes (SP) CBA

American Institutions

7 - Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima - PUCP

8 - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile - PUC

9 - Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina UNMDP

10 - Universidade Federal Fluminense UFF

11 - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM

13-Brown University, Department of Hispanic Studies, Rhode Island, USA (AC)

14-Tulane University, New Orleans, USA TU (TC)

15- Texas Tech University, Texas, USA TTU (TC)


You can follow us on twitter @FAILUREPROJECT1 and consult our latest activities on our webpage []

1. June 2019 (Lisbon, Portugal):Kick-off meeting. Genealogies and philosophies of failure

2. June 2020 (Mar del Plata, Argentina): Failed Lives. Rational Choice, Personal Interests and Individualized Accounts of Disaster.

3. October 2020_Mid-term meeting (Madrid, Spain)

4. January 2021 (Mexico City, Mexico): Reading and Assessing Failure in Communities, Women and Racial Discourse.

5. June 2021 (Munich, Germany): The Relativism of Failure: Expectations, Models and Comparisons.

6. December 2021 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Failure as a Metaphor: Social Interactions and the Strategies of Unsuccess in a Global Context.

7. June 2022 (Lima, Peru): Big failures. Institutional, Legal, Political and Diplomatic Frameworks.

8. January 2023 (Madrid, Spain): Positive failures: Reversing genealogies of failure, resilience, creative experiences and useful knowledge.