July 10, 2012 Library of Congress to Award President Fernando Henrique Cardoso Kluge Prize for Study of Humanity

Cardoso To Receive Prize Tonight in Library Ceremony

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Contact: Read Dr. Cardoso' remarks upon receipt of the award.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will award the 2012 John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, one of the leading scholars and practitioners of political economy in recent Latin American history. His scholarly analysis of the social structures of government, the economy and race relations in Brazil laid the intellectual groundwork for his leadership as president in the transformation of Brazil from a military dictatorship with high inflation into a vibrant, more inclusive democracy with strong economic growth.

The Library will present the Kluge Prize to Cardoso at a ceremony on July 10 in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Cardoso is the first prize recipient whose work spans the fields of sociology, political science and economics.

Throughout his life, Cardoso has asked difficult questions and often defied conventional wisdom, whether with respect to race relations, the relationship among key structures within the economy, or integration into the world economic system. His deeply original analysis of the interplay among political, economic, and social processes substantively informed his later governmental policies. Perhaps the strongest evidence of his intellectual accomplishment is that his successors have continued so many of his policies and ensured his legacy as one of Brazil’s greatest leaders.

Cardoso is the eighth recipient of the $1 million Kluge Prize, which recognizes and celebrates work of the highest quality and greatest impact in areas that advance understanding of the human experience. A scholar of enormous intellectual energy, he has written or co-authored more than 23 scholarly books and 116 scholarly articles, with versions of each produced for a wider public.

In the years since his presidency, Cardoso has continued his commitment to scholarship and democracy. He established the first presidential library in Brazil’s history, and he co-founded the Club of Madrid, which celebrates democratic transitions in power and encourages democratization in the world’s developing nations. His written reflections on his political career include “The Accidental President of Brazil,” which he worked on while in residence as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in 2003.

“President Cardoso has been the kind of modern scholar who combines deep study with respect for empirical evidence,” Billington said. “His fundamental aspiration is to seek out the truth about society as it can best be determined, while remaining open to revisiting conclusions as new evidence accumulates whether from a more probing analysis or from changing political and economic realities. He has used and embodied many different aspects of the modern social sciences, and kept a humanitarian perspective. The Library is pleased that through the generosity of the late John W. Kluge, we are able to recognize his accomplishments by honoring him with this prize.”

The Kluge Prize is awarded for lifetime achievement in fields of humanistic and social-science studies that are not included in the Nobel Prizes, most notably history, philosophy, politics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, linguistics, and criticism in the arts and humanities. The study of humanity is a key part of academia, but it is a study not pursued solely in academic institutions. The prize recipient can make his/her contribution in fields such as the media, the performing or literary arts, or in public-service institutions. Unique insights and understandings are also developed in these arenas. Prize-winners must have earned unusual distinction within a given area, and their body of work must demonstrate growth in maturity and range over a sustained period of time and must affect perspectives and vision in other areas of study and walks of life. The work of the prize-winner must exemplify values and ways of thinking that have meaning for scholars in a variety of fields, for those involved in public affairs and for the average layperson.

The prize is administered by the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress. The center was established in 2000 to foster a mutually enriching relationship between the world of ideas and the world of action, between scholars and political leaders. The center attracts to Washington outstanding figures in the scholarly world – both very senior and very junior—and facilitates their access to the Library’s remarkable collection of the world’s knowledge and engages them in conversation with members of the U.S. Congress and other public figures. Lectures and other scholarly events contribute to a vibrant community and enrich the intellectual life of Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the world’s largest library. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding by providing access to its incomparably rich and multi-faceted collections, many of which are freely available on its website at www.loc.gov.

Previous Kluge Prizes have been awarded to Leszek Kolakowski (2003); Jaroslav Pelikan and Paul Ricoeur (2004); John Hope Franklin and Yu Ying-shih (2006); Peter Lamont Brown and Romila Thapar (2008). Further information is available at www.loc.gov/kluge/prize/.


PR 12-137
ISSN 0731-3527