The Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize is awarded to Mike Davis for his life’s work as a public intellectual who encourages critical analysis of society in the service of constructing an alternative, post-capitalist future in both theory and practice.
Mike Davis, professor emeritus of creative writing at UC Riverside, joined the San Diego chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1962 at age 16 and the struggle for racial and social equality has remained the lodestar of his life. His City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990) challenged reigning celebrations of the city from the perspectives of its lost radical past and insurrectionary future. His wide-ranging work has married science, archival research, personal experience, and creative writing with razor-sharp critiques of empires and ruling classes. He embodies the Lannan vision of working at the intersection of art and social justice. Davis has also helped to develop the theory of the prison industrial complex.