Call for papers
American Anthropological Association 2009 Annual Meeting
Panel: Problem of the "Gift": Contemporary Modalities of Philanthropy and Charity
Are we entering a new age of philanthropy? Oprah’s Big Give, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Gates Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and other major philanthropic institutions provide new models for the redistribution of wealth, political access, and desperately needed social services. Though organized forms of giving have a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition, recent emphases on strategic giving, social responsibility, venture philanthropy and the impacts of giving provoke new considerations not only of what is given and to whom, but how things are given, received, and reciprocated. What new forms of obligation are entailed and how are social ties reconfigured in the contemporary charitable and philanthropic landscape?
This panel will explore ideologies and practices of contemporary humanitarian services and philanthropy in light of this year's theme, The End/s of Anthropology. What motivates contemporary charity or corporate giving? What tensions exist between the impulse to give and social obligation? How are philanthropic practices related to ideas of “the gift”? How have philosophies about giving changed in recent years and what kinds of power relationships are involved in or emerging through these processes? What “gestures,” per Mauss, accompany the transactions, and what are the functions of gifts? How do religious philosophies of charity compare to ideas underpinning sustainable development? In asking these questions, we contrast the concept of the gift in relation to the diverse modes in which philanthropy and charity are practiced by public and private foundations, funding agencies and institutions, corporations, as well as individual donors and nonprofits. Papers in this panel will delve into such questions in order to critically examine and analyze various modalities of philanthropy as well as insider and outsider interpretations of the meaning of large ventures of giving. We currently have four panelists examining philanthropic ventures in health care, conservation, orphan care and corporations in Africa and the U.S., and looking for participants whose work overlaps with our interests.
If interested, please email Christy Schuetze (email@example.com). Abstracts are due by Friday, March 27, at the latest.
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