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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific honour in the Netherlands, to Annemarie Mol, professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific honour in the Netherlands, to Annemarie Mol, professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She will receive 2.5 million euros to spend on research of her choice.

The NWO awards the Spinoza Prize on an annual basis to a maximum of four Dutch researchers who rank among the best scientists in the Netherlands and the world The prize is a tribute to what these researchers have achieved in their careers. Moreover, the prize serves as an incentive for further research. In addition to Professor Mol, microbiologist Mike Jetten (Radboud University Nijmegen), mathematician Ieke Moerdijk (Radboud University Nijmegen) and astronomer Xander Tielens (Leiden University) will also receive the prize.

In her research, Mol combines philosophy, medical sociology, anthropology and science and technology research. She looks at everyday practices from an anthropologist’s perspective and thus challenges entrenched ways of thinking. How do we talk about disease and what should we do with it? What is worry? What does it actually mean to eat? Her approach to these questions has inspired researchers around the world, especially in the field of social sciences.

Mol has published books and articles on various subjects. Her book The Body Multiple (Duke University Press, 2002) presents a detailed ethnographic description of hospital practices, in which ‘the body' figures as an ‘actor enacted' that takes on a variety of shapes in a variety of practices. In The Logic of Care (Routledge 2008), Mol describes how the ideal of 'choice' collides with the reality of living with a sick body. In Care in Practice (Transcript 2010), she worked together with two colleagues in order to rethink the link between care and technology so that they could be analysed together. In 2009, Mol was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant for research titled ‘The eating body in Western practice and theory’. That research showed, among other things, that knowledge about calories has developed in a context of scarcity and cannot simply be placed within a context of abundance.

Academic career

Mol (1958) studied medicine (flxible degree progamme) and philosophy at Utrecht University and obtained her doctorate in Philosophy from Groningen University in 1989. Between 1990 and 1995, she worked at Maastricht University and Utrecht University with the assistance of a Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens scholarship. From 1996, she was Socrates Professor of Political Philosophy and senior researcher at the University of Twente. In 2008, she was appointed Socrates Professor of Social Theory, Humanism & Materiality at the UvA. In 2010, she was appointed Professor of Anthropology of the Body at the UvA. Since 2006, Mol has been member of the Social Sciences Council of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Spinoza and the UvA

The Spinoza Prize has been awarded annually since 1995. Mol is the eleventh UvA researcher to win the prize. Mol was preceded by astronomer Ed van de Heuvel (1995), logician Johan van Benthem (1996), the physical chemist Daan Frenkel (2000), biologist Ronald Plasterk (1999), physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf (2003), astronomer Michiel van der Klis (2004), mathematician Lex Schrijver (2005), literary scholar Joep Leerssen (2008), communication scientist Patti Valkenburg (2011) and theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde (2011).

The official presentation of the prize and the Spinoza statuette will be held on 7 September 2012.