Gayatri Spivak to Receive Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters

Gayatri Spivak to Receive Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters

New York, December 1, 2017—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak will be awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy on Thursday, December 7, in New York. Spivak will receive this distinction in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to promoting learning and intellectual endeavor both within and far beyond the academy, through her scholarly work and her educational projects.

The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, born, in Calcutta, India, is a critical theorist, particularly well known for her contributions to the development of deconstruction, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, feminist thought, and, indeed, for the importance of the humanities in general in today’s globalized world. Spivak was initially recognized for her translation and introduction to Jacques Derrida’s “Of Grammatology” (1976), and has since published several translations of French authors and written on French feminism. Some of her most well-known works include “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1988), “A critique of postcolonial reason” (1999), and “An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization” (2012).  A founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, Professor Spivak consistently works toward promoting the intersection and dissemination of global cultures. Her work founding, funding and developing educational institutions in rural India, through her own Pares Chandra and the Sivani Chakravorty Memorial Foundation for Rural Education, is emblematic of this commitment.

She received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy in the field of thought and ethics in 2012, and donated the prize money to her educational projects in India.  In 2013, the President of India decorated her with the Padma Bhushan. In January 2018, the MLA’s eighth Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement will be presented to her.

Following the ceremony on December 7, Professor Spivak will join Rosalind C. Morris at 7:00PM at Albertine Books (972 Fifth Avenue) to discuss ‘Harnessing the Humanities’. The event is free and open to the public, no RSVP necessary. More information:
The Order of Arts and Letters (ordre des Arts et des Lettres) is given out three times annually under the jurisdiction of the minister of Culture and Communication. American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman.

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnership between French and American artists, institutions, and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop, Albertine, it fosters French American exchange around literature and the arts.


Media Contact:

Camille Desprez, Cultural Services of the French Embassy,, +1.212.439.1417