Article of the Year 2021
The Finnish Society for Aesthetics has awarded the Article of the Year 2021 prize to Associate Professor Marguerite La Caze (The University of Queensland) for her article “Becoming a Victim: A Dry White Season”, published in Philosophy Today 65, no. 4 (2021), pp. 899–916.
Since 1997, the Finnish Society for Aesthetics has awarded the Finnish Aesthetic Act of the Year. The aim of the prize is to highlight an important aesthetic feat made in the field of either art, city planning, architectural renovation or media where the aesthetic dimension can make a difference. With the award, we aspire to foster discussion about aesthetics and its role in society. The award is given to a person or community that has through its acts, products, or thoughts raised discussion about art, beauty, and aesthetic value. Beginning from 2015, the Finnish Society for Aesthetics has also awarded a global aesthetic award, as well as an award for a high-quality research article.
In 2020, the award of the Article of the Year is granted to Associate Professor Marguerite La Caze (The University of Queensland) for her article “Becoming a Victim: A Dry White Season”. In this article, La Caze offers an insightful elaboration of individual and collective victimhood through consideration of its portrayal in a work of cinematic fiction, Euzhan Palcy’s film A Dry White Season (USA, 1989), based on André Brink’s 1979 novel of the same name. La Caze’s nuanced reading of the film that makes visible the conditions and consequences of resistance in apartheid South Africa is very topical, as it opens perspectives also to contemporary debates on the status of victimhood. At the time of its release, the film was criticized for placing an Afrikaner schoolteacher as its central character, who becomes a victim of the apartheid regime for supporting Black resistance. This criticism reflects today’s questions on “the right of ownership” to the status of a victim in relation to collective suffering: who can represent whom? This question, besides being an artistic and philosophical topic at large, also touches upon political discussions on representation, gaze and production of different positions in a culture. In her erudite writing, La Caze brings to the fore the transcultural stakes in translating a specific problematic into an international scale, a fact that addresses the seemingly uncomplicated portrayal and public reception of the film. The particular strength of the article is to allow for an array of interpretations that, even if contradictory, resist simple categorization and any idea of a singular truth, a position that makes it especially worthy of the Article of the Year award.
The recipient of the award was chosen by PhD Martta Heikkilä (Finnish Society for Aesthetics) and PhD Janne Vanhanen, and the award was announced in the annual seminar of the Finnish Society for Aesthetics in Helsinki on the 10th of December 2021.