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Ineke Sluiter receives Academy Professor Prize

Ineke Sluiter, Professor of Greek Language and Literature, has been awarded the Academy Professor Prize by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). According to the jury, Sluiter is exceptional in her ability to connect issues from antiquity with the broad themes of the present day.

The KNAW awards the Academy Professor Prize to excellent researchers who have demonstrated in their career that they are among the very top in their field. The prize is awarded annually to two Dutch researchers and is intended as a lifetime achievement prize. The prize carries an award of a million euros to be used for further research. This is the last year that the prize will be awarded. Besides Sluiter, the prize was won this year by Hans Clever, Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Utrecht.

Relevance of classical texts

Ineke Sluiter is a scholar of classics and she works at the interface betweeen linguistics and cultural history. She is convinced of the modern relevance of the study of antiquity. Her research covers ancient ideas on language and the ancient debate on norms and values, but her analyses are also often a comment on our moden society. Sluiter has worked at Leiden University since 1998.

Crossing disciplinary borders

Experts in the Netherlands and further afield praise Sluiter for her broad perspective. She looks beyond the borders of her own field, forges connections with other humanities and takes part in debates on current social issues. She uses ideas from cognitive science in her analyses of Greek tragedies. But together with a large team of Dutch specialists, she is also examining how classical Athens and the Rome of Augustus seem to have been obsessed with their own past and tradition, while they were at the same time involved in large-scale innovations on many differnt fronts. The classicists relate these data in the notion of  â€˜Anchoring Innovation’: for something new to 'land', people have to be able to connect it with something that is known and familiar; in other words, it has to be anchored.  

Recognition for the field

In an initial reaction, Sluiter said she felt 'enormously privileged' to  have been awarded this prize. 'The prize is a recognition of the whole discipline. It's not just for me but for the work of my colleagues. I receive enormous support from their research. And it is an unimaginable luxury to have complete freedom in how to use the prize money.' Sluiter intends to use the prize money to further the 'Anchoring Innovation' research and to conduct further studies on the relation between knowledge in the humanities and other fields (such as the cognitive sciences).  

Spinoza Prize

In 2010 Sluiter was awarded the NWO Spinoza Prize, the highest Dutch scientific distinction. She is a member of the  Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Academia Europaea.