Award Citation

Professor Partha Chatterjee is a political scientist/historian from India. He has continuously raised penetrating questions from the viewpoint of Asia and of developing countries. He is especially well known for his leading role in the‘Subaltern Studies’group, which aims at revealing the history of ordinary people in South Asia, and also for his use of‘post colonial criticism’in order to establish the previously neglected academic field of the‘politics of the masses’.

Professor Chatterjee was born in Kolkata, India in 1947. After he acquired a politics at the University of Rochester, USA, in 1972, he returned to India and began to work at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSS). He served as the Director there for 10 years from 1997.

Subaltern Studies is an intellectual movement which was developed by Guha, Pandey and Spivak, and which undertook the challenging mission of formulating‘a narrative of the history of the masses’. In the background of its creation were the national disturbances of the 1970s and 1980s, during which ordinary people as well as intellectuals asked fundamental questions, such as whether national independence had really‘liberated the people’. To seek for an answer to such questions, Professor Chatterjee and his colleagues have tried to revive the history of the silent majority which had not been included in the traditional framework of historical studies and political arguments. During their research, they created new concepts, arguments and methodologies.

Professor Chatterjee's research work, focused on Subaltern Studies, sent a shockwave through Western academia, and this extended to other areas of the world including Latin America and Africa, where it has had a significant influence. This can be seen as a landmark work because of its massive impact on the process of reconsidering and restructuring the asymmetrical power relationship through which Western academia has held unquestioned power over other regions.

Using the CSSS as a focal point, Professor Chatterjee has also been very efficient in organizing ambitious joint research projects and in educating young academics. Through such efforts, he has established a basis for academic research which is independent from the West, and has secured a space free from state control and from political authority, where freedom of speech is assured.

In the course of his life, Professor Partha Chatterjee has given birth to a unique conception of freedom, which is embodied in scholarly research focused on Asia, and has thus contributed a fresh and fascinating academic discipline to the world. He is therefore worthy of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Prize.

At age 20 (1968)
At the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (Jan., 2006)
At a seminar held in Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Jan., 2009)