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Princess of Asturias Awards


Joseph Pérez, Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences

French historian and Hispanist Joseph Pérez has been bestowed with the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Joseph Pérez, Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences ©FPA

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Aurelio Menéndez Menéndez, Marquis of Ibias, and composed of Victoria Camps Cervera, Marta Elvira Rojo, Inés Fernández-Ordóñez Hernández, María Garaña Corces, Isabel Gómez-Acebo y Duque de Estrada, Mauro Guillén Rodríguez, María del Carmen Iglesias Cano, Adolfo Menéndez Menéndez, José Manuel Otero Novas, Carmen Pérez Die, Rafael Puyol Antolín, Amelia Valcárcel, Bernaldo de Quirós and Juan Vázquez García (acting as secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Marcos Sacristán Represa, Rector of the University of Valladolid and seconded by Jerome Bonnafont, French ambassador to Spain, among others.

Joseph Pérez was born in 1931 in Laroque d'Olmes (Ariege, France), where his parents had moved from Bocairent, Valencia. He studied Literature at the University of Paris and qualified as a Spanish teacher. He began his teaching career in 1956 at the University of Bordeaux III, where he was to take up the Chair in Spanish and Latin American Civilization in 1960. Linked throughout his entire career to this university, which he was rector of from 1978 to 1983, he is currently Professor Emeritus at the Iberian and Latin American Studies Research and Training Unit. In addition, between 1989 and 1996 he was director of the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid, an institution under the auspices of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Both heir to and successor of the excellent work of figures such as Hispanist and historian of the Annales school Fernand Braudel and other Spanish scholars like Pierre Vilar, he has specialized in the historical period ranging from the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella to Philip II and the formation of the modern Spanish state and the Latin American nations. His actual PhD thesis was published in 1970 under the title La revolución de las Comunidades de Castilla [The Revolution of the Communities of Castile] (1520-1521). This work is considered the most comprehensive analysis to date of the Spanish uprising that took place at the beginning of the reign of Charles I. He published his later studies in the books Los movimientos precursores de la emancipación en Hispanoamérica [Precursor Movements of Emancipation in Latin America] (1977), Isabel y Fernando: los Reyes Católicos [Ferdinand and Isabella: the Catholic Monarchs] (1988), Historia de una tragedia: la expulsión de los judíos de España [History of a Tragedy: the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain] (1993), El humanismo de Fray Luis de León [The Humanism of Fray Luis de León] (1994), Carlos V, soberano de dos mundos [Charles V, Ruler of Two Worlds] (1994) and La España del siglo XVI [Sixteenth-Century Spain] (1998). In 1999, he published La España de Felipe II [The Spain of Philip II] and, together with the Spaniards Santos Juliá and Julio Valdeón, Historia de España [History of Spain]. His works also include Crónica de la Inquisición en España [Chronicle of the Inquisition in Spain] (2002), Los judíos en España [The Jews in Spain] (2005) and La leyenda negra [The Black Legend] (2009), which examines the role of the House of Habsburg, above and beyond Spanish politics, and their influence as the most powerful dynasty in Europe. In 2010, he published Historia de la brujería en España [A History of Witchcraft in Spain] and, in 2011, Entender la historia de España [Understanding the History of Spain]. A contributor to specialist publications, some of his works have been translated into Italian, English, German and Japanese.

He holds an honorary degree from the University of Valladolid, is member of the French Association of Higher Education Hispanists and the Spanish, Columbian and Portuguese Academies of History, and member of the Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences of Toledo. Holder of the title of “Adoptive Son” of Bocairent (Valencia), he is an Officer of the French Legion of Honour, Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise and Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic and of the Order of Henry The Navigator of Portugal. In 1991, he was awarded the Elio Antonio de Nebrija International Prize, granted by the University of Salamanca (1986 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation).

As stated in the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. Within this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences will be bestowed on those “whose creative work or research represents an outstanding contribution to the benefit of humanity in the fields of History, Law, Linguistics, Teaching, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Ethics, Philosophy, Geography, Economics, Demography or Anthropology, including the disciplines corresponding to each of these fields”.

This year a total of twenty-five candidatures from Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States and Spain ran for the Award.

This is the second of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the thirty-fourth time. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to American architect Frank O. Gehry. The rest of awards will be announced in the coming weeks in the following order: Communication and Humanities, Technical and Scientific Research, Literature, International Cooperation and Sports, with the Concord award being announced in September.

Each Prince of Asturias Award, which date back to 1981, comprises a diploma, a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the Awards, an insignia bearing the Foundation's coat of arms, and a cash prize of 50,000 Euros. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.

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