Professor Gayatri Spivak Selected as 2012 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Arts and Philosophy

June 27, 2012
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Image credit: Alice Attie

The Inamori Foundation announced that Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has been selected to receive the 28th annual Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy in the field of thought and ethics. An Indian intellectual, activist and University Professor, Spivak is also a founder of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Known as the “Nobel of the arts,” the Kyoto Prize is an international award presented annually to individuals who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind in categories of advanced technology, basic sciences and arts and philosophy. An author of numerous books and publications, Spivak is best known for her introduction to the translation of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology (1976) and her 1988 essay “Can the Subaltern Speak,” where she spotlights those who are economically dispossessed, forcibly marginalized and rendered without agency by their social status. Her other published works include Myself Must I Remake (1974), In Other Worlds (1987), The Post-Colonial Critic (1988), Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993), Imaginary Maps (1994), Breast Stories (1997), A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), Old Women (1999), Song for Kali (2000), Chotti Munda and His Arrow (2002), Death of a Discipline (2003), What is Gender (2006), Who Sings the Nation-State (2007), Other Asias (2008), Nationalism and the Imagination (2010), and the forthcoming An Aesthetic Education (Harvard University Press). Asked about her goals, Spivak remains committed to fulfilling “a profound and ethical responsibility to humanities’ role in creating a will for social justice among minorities who have been deprived of language and history through an invisible structure of oppression—as well as students at the top who are digitalized too soon.” Spivak joins Dr. Ivan Sutherland (Advanced Technology), a computer scientist known as the father of computer graphics, and molecular biologist Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi (Basic Sciences) as this year’s honorees of the Kyoto Prize. The laureates receive a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and a cash gift of $630,000 in recognition of lifelong contributions to society at a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan on November 10, 2012. The non-profit Inamori Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corporation, founder of and honorary adviser to KDDI Corporation, and director and chairman emeritus of Japan Airlines. The Foundation created the Kyoto Prize in 1985, in line with Dr. Inamori’s belief that a human being has no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only when there is a balance between our scientific progress and our spiritual depth. With the 2012 laureates, the prize has honored 90 individuals and one foundation—collectively representing 15 nations. Individual laureates range from scientists, engineers and researchers to philosophers, painters, architects, sculptors, musicians and film directors. The United States has produced the most recipients (36), followed by Japan (16), the United Kingdom (12), and France (8). More information can be found at —by Cindy del Rosario-Tapan