Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to present annual Maitra Lecture at UC Santa Cruz

Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen will deliver the sixth annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture at UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, October 7, at the Music Center Recital Hall. He will speak on the topic: "The Tyranny of Identity." The lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a screening of renowned Indian director Satyajit Ray's film "The Home and The World" at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

After his lecture, Sen will be presented with the UC Santa Cruz Foundation Medal-the highest honor awarded by the university. Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal noted that this tribute is granted to "individuals of exceptionally distinguished achievement whose life and contributions to society illustrate the ideals and the vision of UC Santa Cruz."

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998, Sen is also the recipient of the "Bharat Ratna," the highest honor awarded by the president of India. His Nobel citation stated that "by combining tools from economics and philosophy, he has restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems." Another Nobel laureate summed up Sen's many contributions by calling him the "Conscience of Economics."

Sen's research has covered a wide range of fields in economics, philosophy, and decision theory--including public health, welfare economics, moral and political philosophy, and the economics of peace and war. His numerous books have been translated into more than 30 languages and include Poverty and Famines (1981), On Ethics and Economics (1987), Inequality Reexamined (1992), Development as Freedom (1999), and Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2006).

The Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture at UC Santa Cruz was established in 2001 by Foundation President Anuradha Luther Maitra to honor the memory of her late husband who was a distinguished scientist and visionary entrepreneur. A former student of Sen, Luther noted that "in a career marked by astonishing breadth, he has deepened our understanding of poverty, inequality, famine, and the status of women in development."

"In his many influential writings, he has approached economics as a human discipline that must reconcile individual choices in the marketplace with democracy and social justice," added Luther.

Sen is currently the Lamont University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard. He has received honorary doctorates from major universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sen's many awards include the Senator Giovanni Agnelli International Prize in Ethics; the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award; the Edinburgh Medal; the Presidency of the Italian Republic Medal; the Eisenhower Medal; the Honorary Companion of Honour (U.K.); and the Brazilian Ordem do Merito Cientifico.

Sen has additionally served as president of the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association, and the International Economic Association. He was also formerly Honorary President of OXFAM and is now its Honorary Adviser.

Dilip Basu, director of UCSC's Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection, noted that Sen particularly selected the film "The Home and the World"-Sen's favorite Ray film--to accompany the lecture.

"Based on a famed Tagore novel, the film is arguably Ray's last great masterpiece," said Basu. "It was made in 1984. While finishing it, Ray suffered a massive heart attack which prevented him from making any major films before he passed on in 1992."

"Unlike his early signature films which have characters in shades of gray, "Home and the World" has an unadulterated hero and a villain," Basu added. "Both stand as metaphors around which Ray mobilizes his firm beliefs and convictions: humanism, justice, reason, women's agency, and rejection of politics mixed with religion."

This event is presented by the UC Santa Cruz Division of the Humanities and the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection. For more information, call (831) 459-5251.