Santiago Zabala was raised in Rome, Vienna, and Geneva. He first studied philosophy at the University of Turin where in 2002 he obtained his MA and in 2006 his PhD (summa cum laude) from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. In November 2007 he was awarded the Humboldt Research Fellowship by Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the years 2008/2009. After spending the spring semester of 2010 as a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, Zabala was appointed ICREA Research Professor. First he worked at the University of Barcelona and, as of 2015, at the Pompeu Fabra University, where he currently teaches contemporary philosophy and supervises MA and PhD theses. He is also visiting professor at Renmin University, the IDSVA and several other international institutions. He is editor of three series and author of numerous authored and edited books and opinion articles for The Guardian, New York Times, and Al-Jazeera.
Zabala's research concentrates in three areas each of which have generated several authored and edited books: ontology, political philosophy, and aesthetics. All these three areas are studied following the hermeneutic principle according to which truth is not an objective goal that philosophy must submit to, but rather the effect of the conflict of interpretations. Following the work of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Gianni Vattimo Zabala has emphasized the ontological nature of hermeneutics in order to demonstrate the danger of truth impositions for religious and political emancipation. His next books and articles will be on political ontology and aesthetics.