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January 31, 2024

Anthony Appiah to Receive Humanities Award

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Cambridge, MA | Jan 31, 2024 — The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has named Kwame Anthony Appiah the recipient of the Don M. Randel Award for Humanistic Studies. First given in 1975, the award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to humanistic scholarship.

Appiah is an author, philosopher, and public intellectual. He is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, and has published widely in literary and cultural studies, with a focus on African and African-American culture. His award-winning publications include The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity; Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity; Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers; The Ethics of Identity; and In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. He is also the author of The Ethicist column in the New York Times.

Appiah was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995, serves as a member of the Academy’s Board, and chairs the Academy's Committee on Anti-Racism.

“Anthony Appiah is a rare scholar whose work expands the world around us while also sharpening our awareness of our place within it,” said David Oxtoby, President of the American Academy. “He possesses an uncommon ability to examine humanity’s wide range of inquiries – from private ethical dilemmas to global cultural shifts – and to do so with astounding clarity and broad appeal. We are grateful that he has been a bold steward for organizations committed to the pursuit of knowledge, including our own.”

“Having written a book about honor, I’m especially alert to the significance of this award. And I feel especially honored to be recognized not just as a philosopher but as a humanist,” said Appiah. “Every generation discovers what Cicero recognized a couple of millennia ago—the humanities are a central part of the education of free human beings.”

Appiah is currently the president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a past president of the PEN American Center and the Modern Language Association. He has chaired the Board of the American Philosophical Association and the Booker Prize Committee and served on the Boards the National Humanities Center, the New York Public Library, the Public Theater, and the American Academy in Berlin.

His honors include the Phillip L. Quinn Prize from the American Philosophical Association, the National Humanities Medal, and the first Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize awarded by Brandeis University. He is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and a Member of the Royal Society of Literature.

First established in 1975, the award was renamed in 2017 in honor of musicologist and former Chair of the American Academy’s Board of Directors Don M. Randel, who previously served as the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and president of the University of Chicago. The award has seven prior recipients, most recently Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 2021 and Martha C. Nussbaum in 2018.

The Academy will present this award to Appiah at a ceremony on April 18, 2024, in Cambridge, MA which will be available to join online. 

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