Goethe Medal 2017: "Language is the key"

Civil-rights activist, writer, feminist publisher: "Language is the key"

The 2017 Goethe Medals are themed “language is the key”. The recipients Urvashi Butalia, Emily Nasrallah and Irina Scherbakowa take a courageous stance on subjects tabooed in their societies – from violence against women to the politics of remembrance. Urvashi Butalia and Irina Scherbakowa are long-time partners of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

"It became my mission to locate women's voices"

Interview

Urvashi Butalia is one of India’s foremost feminists. On the occasion of her receiving Germany’s Goethe Medal on August 28, 2017 in Weimar, we have talked to her about her work as a publisher, feminism, writing and politics in India.

By Axel Harneit-Sievers
Portrait: Urvashi Butalia
Portrait: Emily Nasrallah

“Proof that history can be changed”

Interview

For decades, Russian civil rights activist, historian, and German scholar Irina Scherbakova has been working to shed light on the repressive policies of the former Soviet Union. This Monday, she was awarded the Goethe Medal.

By Simone Brunner
Portrait: Irina Scherbakowa

Once a year, the Goethe-Institut awards the Goethe Medal, an official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. This medal honours luminaries who have performed outstanding service for the German language and for international cultural relations. Since it was first awarded in 1955, a total of 344 figures from 65 countries have been honoured. The awardees have included Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Bourdieu, David Cornwell AKA John le Carré, Sir Ernst Gombrich, Lars Gustafsson, Ágnes Heller, Petros Markaris, Sir Karl Raimund Popper, Jorge Semprún, Robert Wilson, Neil MacGregor, Helen Wolff and Yurii Andrukhovych.

I’m an optimist. We Indian women will not take a single step backwards. We are ready for change. Things will only move forwards.
Urvashi Butalia

For further reading

Perspectives Asia: Politics of Food

Food is a highly political issue. Nowhere is this more true than in Asia. This publication seeks to illustrate some conflicting issues in the field of food and nutrition. The contributions highlight a selection of fields, where political action is needed to ensure that there is enough food on people's plate, which is also healthy and nutritious.