Black sociologist Collins wins  $1 million Berggruen Prize

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Sociologist and author Patricia Hill Collins, whose work has focused on issues of race, gender and social inequality, has been named the winner of the 2023 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture.

The $1 million prize awarded by the Los Angeles-based Berggruen Institute honors “thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.”

“We are proud to announce that Patricia Hill Collins is the winner of the 2023 edition of the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture,” Antonio Damasio, chair of the Berggruen Prize Jury, said in a statement. “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.

“Patricia Hill Collins has given a voice and a face to so many who would otherwise have remained unheard and unseen.”

Collins gained notoriety with her pioneering 1990 book “Black Feminist Thought,” which Berggruen Institute officials hailed for exploring the “distinctive analytical perspectives on life” of U.S. Black women, “developing a new vocabulary for the structure of society from their unique experiences over centuries of oppression.”

“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,” Nicolas Berggruen, chairman and founder of the Berggruen Institute, said in a statement. “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.”

Collins is the first Black winner of the prize. Institute officials said she was chosen from “hundreds of scholars and practitioners in the fields of philosophy, social science, economics, human rights, theoretical physics, and beyond.”

She is a sociology professor emerita at the University of Maryland and former head of the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She is also a past president of the American Sociological Association.