NomadIT Conference Suite

DSA, 2019: DSA2019: Opening up Development

Open University, Milton Keynes, 19/06/2019 – 21/06/2019

Panel

(C1)
Philanthropy and international development: bridging epochs, geographies, imaginaries, and institutions [paper]
Location
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]

Convenors

  • Sally Brooks (University of York) email
  • Arun Kumar (University of York) email

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Short abstract

Scholarly and public interest in the disproportionate influence of philanthropy in international development continues to grow. This panel will explore institutional mechanisms through which this influence is exercised. Contributions on non-US and non-Western philanthropy are particularly welcomed.

Long abstract

Over the last decade, scholarly and public interest in the role of philanthropy in international development has grown significantly. Departing from proponents' naive belief in its power to 'save the world' (Bishop and Green 2010); critics of philanthropy have characterised it as cultural imperialism, hegemony, and complicitous in USA's 'soft power' (Arnove 1980, Parmar 2012, Roelofs 2003). Building on the critical, interdisciplinary scholarship on private philanthropy and international development but departing—somewhat—from which, we wish to focus on the institutional mechanisms by which philanthropic foundations have exercised their disproportionate influence on international development. That is, instead of describing philanthropic foundations' influence (as hegemonic, dominant, etc.), we are more interested in understanding and theorising this influence. One possible way, we suggest, of doing this is through the metaphorical use of bridges—connecting, bypassing and traversing—developmental epochs, geographies, imaginaries, and institutions. We invite contributions that interpret, interrogate, theorise (and even critique) philanthropic foundations' influence through their institutional mechanisms of bridging. In addition to the expected criticisms of large US philanthropic foundations, we welcome contributions on non-American, particularly non-Western philanthropy, which has so far received limited scholarly attention; thus opening up debate on private philanthropy and international development.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Cultural borderlands: Girl Hub an 'innovative' partnership between an aid bureaucracy and a philanthropic Foundation.

Author: Cathy Shutt (University of Sussex) email
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Short abstract

This paper considers whether the concept of cultural borderlands can enhance critical research and understanding of how and why the bridging efforts of philanthropic organisations work or not.

Long abstract

The Nike Foundation's promotion of the technology based Girl Effect and subsequent influence on development policy have been the subject of excitement by some policy makers and intense criticism by feminist and post colonial scholars. This paper uses the bridge metaphor to examine these positions and to analyse Girl Hub, the organisational entity established to 'bridge' the different cultures and competencies of Nike's philanthropic foundation and a traditional aid bureaucracy, DFID. I highlight the risks of the Girl Effect's advocates and detractors overestimating the effects of philanthropic foundations and the ease of constructing bridges for ideas to travel between institutions. In addition, the paper considers whether the concept of cultural borderlands can enhance critical research and understanding of how and why the bridging efforts of philanthropic organisations work or not, as well as creating possible spaces for resistance.

From "Civil Society" to "Philanthropy": Understanding the Discursive Change of Chinese NGOs

Author: Hailing Zhao (University of East Anglia) email
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Short abstract

This paper aims to understand the discursive change in China NGO sector, from 'civil society development' (between the early 1990s to early 2000s) to 'charity and philanthropy' (in the past decade.

Long abstract

The past two decades have witnessed great changes of China's NGO sector. What attracts most researchers is the dynamics of the relationship between the state and NGOs in China, especially the policy changes and the survival strategies of grassroots organizations in China's authoritarianism. But quite limited study has done on the internal structure change of China's NGO sector, particularly, the discursive change among different organizations. This paper aims to fill this gap by looking at the languages that Chinese NGO workers have used in the past two decades: how the NGO workers describe their work using different languages (like 'civil society constructor' or 'philanthropy worker'), and how different identities have been created. The paper argues that to understand the emerging 'philanthropy discourse' in China's NGO sector, we needs to reconsider: 1) the rise and fall of 'civil society' discourse in China in its history, 2) the newly rich Chinese (or 'philantropists') as the major donors and their cooperations with the Chinese state.

Leveraging Bogotá: Sustainable development, global philanthropy and the rise of urban solutionism

Author: Sergio Montero (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) email
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Short abstract

This article shows that the rapid circulation of Bogota as a model of sustainable urban transport since the 2000s reflects an increasing focus of the international development apparatus on urban policy solutions and "best practices" as an arena to achieve global development impacts

Long abstract

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is marked by the consolidation of sustainability as

a key guiding principle and an emphasis on cities as a potential solution to global development

problems. However, in the absence of an agreement on how to implement sustainable development in cities, a set of urban policy solutions and 'best practices' became the vehicles through which the sustainable development agenda is spreading worldwide. This article shows that the rapid circulation of Bogota´ as a model of sustainable transport since the 2000s reflects an increasing focus of the international development apparatus on urban policy solutions as an arena to achieve global development impacts, what I call the 'leveraging cities' logic in this article. This logic emerges at a particular historical conjuncture characterised by: (1) the rising power of global philanthropy to set development agendas; (2) the generalisation of solutionism as a strategy of action among development and philanthropic organisations; and (3) the increasing attention on cities as solutions for global development problems, particularly around sustainability and climate change. By connecting urban policy mobilities debates with development studies this article seeks to unpack the emergence, and the limits, of 'leveraging cities' as a proliferating global development practice. These urban policy solutions are far from being a clear framework of action. Rather, their circulation becomes a 'quick fix' to frame the problem of sustainable development given the unwillingness of development and philanthropic organisations to intervene in the structural factors and multiple scales that produce environmental degradation and climate change.

Philanthropy in Brazil: Promoting a market-based agenda for local development

Author: Jessica Sklair (University of Sussex) email
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Short abstract

While philanthropy in Brazil does not exert the influence it does in the USA, it has played a notable role in setting the agenda for local development. This paper examines how Brazilian philanthropy overlooks issues of rights and inequality in promoting the market-based models informing this agenda.

Long abstract

This paper explores the nature of local philanthropic engagement in the Brazilian development agenda. While the influence of Brazilian philanthropists has not reached the material scale or significance of that achieved by their North American counterparts, I argue that foundation philanthropy in Brazil has played a notable role in setting the recent ideological agenda for local development. This pro-market agenda is based on the promotion of entrepreneurship among the poor, and their incorporation into the capitalist marketplace. In this context, I argue that the 'bridging' function of philanthropy in Brazil has been characterised more by the 'bypassing' metaphor than by one of 'connection'. The relationship between philanthropy and Brazil's NGO sector has historically been a hostile one, as the latter emerged during Brazil's dictatorship (1964-85) in opposition to military rule and the abuse of social, economic and human rights, at a time when most philanthropic elites were closely aligned to the military government. This saw local philanthropy evolve independently of Brazil's NGO sector, which was funded by foreign philanthropic and development agencies. Since Brazil's return to democracy, NGOs that continue to focus on issues of human rights and structural inequalities have been 'bypassed' by a local philanthropic sector now increasingly interested in promoting the market-based models for development advocated by the global philanthrocapitalist movement. In the context of Brazil's recent political swing to the far right, this focus also sees Brazilian philanthropy 'bypassing' active opposition to the brutal wave of human rights suppression currently sweeping the country.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.