Professor Anne Van Leeuwen Wins DeBeauvoir Award


It is with great pleasure that the editors of Simone de Beauvoir Studies announce that the inaugural Patterson Prize has been awarded to Anne van Leeuwen in the Anglophone competition for her article “Useless Mouths: Value, Women’s Work, and the Struggle against Exploitation.” The winning article can be found in the latest issue of SdBS:

The Patterson Prize is awarded annually to a work that best embodies modes of thought and expression characteristic of Beauvoir’s oeuvre, including excellence, originality, attention to marginalized voices, and an insistence on addressing contemporary social problems. The Prize is named in honor of Yolanda Astarita Patterson, who was the President of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society and editor in chief of Simone de Beauvoir Studies for more than thirty years and whose life work was to build and cultivate a global network for Beauvoir studies.  

Van Leeuwen’s article develops a Marxist-feminist reading of Beauvoir’s 1945 play Useless Mouths that inscribes the play’s contemporary relevance during this time of global pandemic, political upheaval, and the general decadence of twentieth-century infrastructures, all of which expose the ways that humans are treated as ontologically worthless in global economies. The originality of van Leeuwen’s analysis lies in reading the play not as an abstract representation of a moral problem but as a concrete, historically situated critique of capitalism and its sexual division of labor that has strong resonances with Silvia Federici’s analyses in Caliban and the Witch. Returning to Useless Mouths more than seventy-five years after it was first performed reminds us that our social movements against oppression and exploitation cannot prevail unless we address the historical conditions that facilitate injustice and that mark groups such as women, Black people, people of color, Jews, the elderly, and the sick as worth less than others.

-From the 2022 Patterson Prize announcement

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Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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