Johns Hopkins professor Anand Pandian gets $100,000 Infosys 2019 Prize in Social Sciences

Anand Pandian, an anthropology professor at Johns Hopkins University, was named the winner o fInfosys 2019 Prize in Social Sciences last week for his “brilliantly imaginative work” on ethics, selfhood and the creative process.

The 11th Infosys prize that announced Nov. 7 at Infosys Bangalore campus by the Infosys Science Foundation is given annually in six categories – Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.

The prize celebrates the success of the recipients in science and research by recognizing their achievements in each category. The prize for each category comprises a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of USD 100,000 (or its equivalent in Rupees) this year.

A panel of accomplished jurors comprising renowned scholars and professors shortlisted the winners from 196 nominations. The prize has been awarded in the past to some of the best talents who have earned prestigious international honors like Fields Medal and the Nobel Prize more recently.

“Anand Pandian is among the most creative anthropologists of his generation. He is known for pushing the frontiers of the discipline and for the mastery of his craftsmanship,” said Jury Chair Kaushik Basu, Professor of International Studies, Cornell University and former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank.

“He has shed new light on caste-based identities and agrarian political economy and ecology by focusing on the moral dimensions of development. I congratulate Anand Pandian for the brilliance of his research and his ethical commitment to illuminating the human condition,” Basu said.

The award intends to celebrate success in research and stand as a marker of excellence in these fields. The ISF believes this year’s winners too will leave an indelible impression in their domains.

Pandian graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1994 with a B.A. in Political Ecology. He received his M.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology from University of California, Berkeley in 1999.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from UC, Berkeley in 2004, Pandianwas visiting faculty at Hamilton College. From 2005-2007, Prof. Pandian was Johal Chair in Indian Studies and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, following which he joined the faculty at JHU in 2007.

The jury noted that Prof. Pandian’s books and articles break new ground and are innovative in concept and structure, and impeccably crafted. Each of his books, including ‘While Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South India (2009)’ that illuminates the braiding of the moral and material dimensions in how the Piramalai Kallarcommunity in South India strive for development; Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation (2015) which brings to life the making of Tamil films under complex, uncertain conditions, is quite different from the other, according to Infosys Science Foundation.

The jury noted that the books show Pandian’s astonishing theoretical range and his ability to bring the specificities of Tamil culture to question universal concepts. Pandian’s impeccable research draws upon intensive fieldwork, classical Tamil texts, the colonial archive as well as contemporary popular culture.

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