CHENNAI: Historian Romila Thapar has been chosen for the 2008 Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Humanity instituted by the United States Library of Congress. Dr. Thapar, who is Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, will receive the $1 million prize along with Peter Robert Lamont Brown, Professor of History at Princeton University, in a ceremony on December 10 at the Library of Congress.
Endowed by Library of Congress benefactor John W. Kluge, the Kluge Prize is for a wide range of disciplines, including history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics, as well as a variety of cultural perspectives in the world. Each awardee will receive half of the $1 million prize.
According to a media release from the Library of Congress, both Dr. Brown, 73, and Dr. Thapar, 77, brought “dramatically new perspectives to understanding vast sweeps of geographical territory and a millennium or more of time in, respectively, Europe and the Middle East, and in the Indian subcontinent.”
Dr. Thapar, it said, “created a new and more pluralistic view of Indian civilisation, which had seemed more unitary and unchanging, by scrutinising its evolution over two millennia and searching out its historical consciousness.”
The release noted that the two historians addressed their scholarship not only to specialists, but also “intentionally shared their insights with broader lay audiences.” In re-imagining familiar worlds with eyes unprejudiced by existing paradigms, they each opened large areas of human experience to new historical inquiry.