Judith Butler awarded Catalonia International Prize

American philosopher and human rights activist’s work has influenced political philosophy and ethics

Judith Butler awarded the Catalonia International Prize on January 24, 2022
Judith Butler awarded the Catalonia International Prize on January 24, 2022 / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 24, 2022 04:10 PM

The American philosopher, Judith Butler, has been awarded the Catalonia International Prize for their influential work in fields such as political philosophy and ethics.

The jury considered their "activism and thinking inspiring," showing "that life counts," Catalan president Pere Aragonès said during a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Aragonès also highlighted "the revolution and transformation their work has had on feminist philosophy, their activism for lesbian and gay rights, and their support for the queer community."

The Catalan president drew comparisons between the prizewinner and Catalonia, saying they both share the same values on equality, fraternity, non-violence, and freedom.

Who is Judith Butler?

Butler is one of the most important figures in gender studies internationally, and well known for the feminist philosophy they have been working on for years, in particular their theory of gender performativity.

In their essay "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" Butler explains the improvised performance gender has. They believe that gender roles are social constructions, not natural concepts.

Butler considers themselves a non-binary person, meaning that they do not identify as male or female.

During the last number of years, the American philosopher has also taken intellectual and political action in conflicts such as the one between Israel and Palestine, the war in Iraq and the Occupy Wall Street movement, a peaceful anti-capitalist protest that began on September 17, 2011 with a sit-in in New York's financial district.

Butler was born in Cleveland in 1956. They are professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. Their books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages. 

Previous prizewinners: Malala, Tutu, Cousteau

The Catalonia International Prize has been awarded annually since 1989 to people who have contributed to developing cultural, scientific, and human values around the world through their creative work.

Last year, four women linked to the fight against Covid-19 were awarded the prize: doctors Dania El Mazloum and Anzhela Gradeci, the head nurse at Igualada hospital, Tijana Postic, and BioNTech co-founder Özlem Türeci.

Other former awardees include philosopher Karl Popper, oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, politician Václav Havel, writer Doris Lessing, and activist Malala Yousafzai.

South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who passed away aged 90 in December, was awarded the prize in 2014. In his acceptance speech he urged for dialogue between Catalonia and Spain and for the Spanish government to allow Catalan residents to vote for their future.