International Prize for Ian Buruma

    - Erasmus Prize 50 Years

    AMSTERDAM, Jan. 23 /CNW/ - In 2008 the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation
celebrates it 50th anniversary. His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the
Netherlands founded the Prize in 1958. The Prize is awarded annually to a
person who, within the cultural traditions of Europe, has made an especially
important contribution to culture, society or social science in Europe. The
prize money is a sum of EUR 150,000.
    The Board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation (Amsterdam) has awarded
the Erasmus Prize 2008 to the Dutch/British journalist, author and political
commentator Ian Buruma.
    The official award ceremony of the prestigious Erasmus Prize will take
place on 7 November in Rotterdam. The theme of the Prize in this jubilee year
is 'The New Cosmopolitan'.
    Ian Buruma (1951) is a new cosmopolitan. After studying Chinese in Leiden
and Japanese film in Tokyo, he became cultural editor of The Far Eastern
Economic Review and foreign editor of The Spectator; since 2003 he is Henry R.
Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College, New
York. He was chairman of the Humanities Centre of the Central European
University in Budapest, fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and the
Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington. He is member of the scientific advisory
council of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam and member of the board of Human
Rights in China in New York. Ian Buruma has written about Japan, China, Asia
and their often problematic relationships with the West. He is one of the
leading international essayists on East-West relations. Ian Buruma is a
regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. His book Murder in
Amsterdam on the murder of Theo van Gogh was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles
Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book. In 2004 Ian Buruma
received an honorary doctorate from the University of Groningen. In 2008 he is
holding the Cleveringa-chair at the University of Leiden and will be
professorial fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in
    The Erasmus Prize derives its name and inspiration from the Dutch
humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). Renowned theologian and
teacher, Erasmus was a true world citizen; his view of life was universal:
knowledge must prevail over ignorance, order over chaos and humaneness is of
greater value than any dogma. Erasmus defended the integrity of the intellect
and pleaded for moderation and tolerance. Praise of Folly is one of his best
known works.
    'The New Cosmopolitan' is a citizen of a new world, in which boundaries
of all sorts are easily transcended; where people of diverse cultures work
together readily and economic and cultural exchange as intrinsic. The new
world citizen likes to picture a world without hindrances, but is forced to
confront societal realities, where identity is frequently defined by
traditional differences such as nationality, culture, religion or ethnic
origins. With this thematic the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation raises the
issue of the tension that exists between a cosmopolitan attitude and the
responsibility for one's own social environment.
    Previous laureates of the Erasmus Prize include Charlie Chaplin (1965),
Henry Moore (1968), Claude Levi-Strauss (1973), Vaclav Havel (1986), Bernard
Haitink (1991), Jacques Delors (1997), Hans van Manen (2000) and Alan Davidson

    Note for the Editor

    For more biographical information and an extensive survey of publications
by Ian Buruma please refer to

For further information:

For further information: Prof. dr Max Sparreboom, Praemium Erasmianum
Foundation, Jan van Goyenkade 5, 1075 HN Amsterdam, Tel.+ 31-20-6752753,

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