Bruno Latour wins the 2013 Holberg Prize

Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour, anthropologist and sociologist, is this year's Holberg Prize laureate. Latour is professor at Sciences Po, Paris. Photo credit: Manuel Braun.

The Board of the Ludvig Holberg Memorial Fund has decided to award the 2013 Holberg International Memorial Prize to anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour. The Prize amount is NOK 4.5 million (EUR 610,000/USD 790,000).

Chairman of the Ludvig Holberg Memorial Fund, Sigmund Grønmo, announced the winner in Bergen today, 13 March. The Prize winner will receive the prize at an award ceremony in Håkonshallen in Bergen, Norway on 5 June 2013.

Questions the natural sciences' production of knowledge
French anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour has been described by the Holberg Prize Academic Committee as a creative, humorous and unpredictable researcher. The Academic Committee justifies the award for this year's Holberg Prize by stating that ‘Bruno Latour has undertaken an ambitious analysis and reinterpretation of modernity, and has challenged fundamental concepts such as the distinction between modern and pre-modern, nature and society, human and non-human. (...) The impact of Latour's work is evident internationally and far beyond studies of the history of science, art history, history, philosophy, anthropology, geography, theology, literature and law.’ Latour is currently Professor at Sciences Po in Paris.

Laboratory life (1979), authored with Steven Woolgar, was the first of a number of pioneering publications that have set the standard for ethnographic analyses of the making of scientific facts. In We have never been modern (1991) Latour questions the absolute division between nature and society, a division that several phenomena in our age, such as e.g. biotechnology, climate change and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, make it difficult to maintain. He claims that this is a division that has never existed in an absolute form and proposes radical new ways of facing this reality.

A strong, public voice
In the 1980s Latour, together with colleagues Michel Callon and John Law, developed the ‘Actor Network Theory’ (ANT) as a method. The basic premise is that society consists of a network of actors, where all actors influence and are influenced by the network and each other. His involvement in museum science, aesthetics and the use of digital techniques in the humanities led to spectacular museum exhibitions – Iconoclash (2002) and Making Things Public (2005) – which sparked debate and involvement around subjects related to knowledge and freedom of information.

Since the late 1990s Latour has been involved in the discourse on environmental challenges and climate change, which led to the book Politics of Nature (1999). Here he argues that when modernization has progressed so far that nature rebels, it is time to ‘ecologize’ rather than ‘modernize’. In his latest book Inquiry into Modes of Existence – An Anthropology of the Modern (2012) he pursues this debate further and also launches a digital online counterpart, www.modesofexistence.org, where others may contribute to research.
 

Citation of the Holberg Prize Academic Committee
Interview with Latour
Latour's homepage
Biography and CV
Latour's latest project: 'AIME- An inquiry Into Modes of Existence- An Anthropology of Modernities'
Lecture: Professor Bruno Latour: 'The Modes of Existence project: an exercise in collective inquiry and digital humanities'