Every year, the Berggruen Institute awards $1 million to prizewinners “for major achievements in advancing ideas that shape the world,” according to the Los Angeles-based think tank. Today, the Institute announced that the 2023 winner of the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture is Black feminist icon Patricia Hill Collins.
This is a truly historic moment as Collins is the first Black person to win this coveted prize. Being selected as the winner from a field of hundreds puts Collins in the same preeminent group as the seven other previous awardees, including the late Supreme Court justice Ruther Bader Ginsburg.
The Berggruen Prize Jury explained their reasoning behind Collins’ selection—“her work ‘provides a powerful analytical lens through which we can envision the different and intersecting ways in which our material, social, and cultural worlds produce injustice.’” It “has given us ‘original vocabulary with which to think about social power and contestation’” states the release.
Antonio Damasio, Berggruen Prize Jury Chair said, “We are proud to announce that Patricia Hill Collins is the winner of the 2023 edition of the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture.”
“Her studies illuminate the material, social, and cultural conditions behind the mutilation of human possibilities while never failing to recognize the uniqueness of human experience,” added Damasio. “Patricia Hill Collins has given a voice and a face to so many who would otherwise have remained unheard and unseen.”
Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman and Founder of the Berggruen Institute stated that, “Collins’ articulation of a new understanding of oppression and justice, combined with her insistence that ideas are necessarily the catalysts for institutional reform, captures both the spirit and mission of the Berggruen Prize.”
“In today’s time of urgent planetary challenges to equality, her work challenges thinkers to look to the experiences of unseen people for the ideas that will shape tomorrow,” says Berggruen.
A Philadelphia, Penn. native, Collins’ perspective on life was shaped by her upbringing as the daughter of two working class parents. She went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Brandeis University before matriculating to Harvard University for her Master of Arts in Teaching. Collins returned to Brandeis for her Ph.D. in sociology.
In another first, when Collins became the 100th president of the American Sociological Association, she was the first Black woman to hold this role.
A sociologist and Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Maryland, Collins is also the author of Black Feminist Thought. This seminal book goes through the history of Black feminist discourse, “developing a new vocabulary for the structure of society from their unique experiences over centuries of oppression,” writes the release.
Her “insights underpinned an idea with relevance far beyond the American experience: that race, class, gender, and myriad other dimensions of identity mutually construct one another as expressions of power, reinforcing inequality everywhere,” continues the release.
Collins has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, in addition to writing other award-winning books: Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology; Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism; Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice; From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism; Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities; The Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies; and On Intellectual Activism.