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Charity and philanthropy

Alexander, C.

Charity and philanthropy Thumbnail



H. Callan


Anthropological analyses of charity are often based on Maussian theories of gift exchange and inequalities between donor and recipient, sometimes compounded by spectacular displays of giving or by aid, both humanitarian and faith-based, from the global north to the south. Other accounts complicate this understanding, variously showing the charitable gift as the recipient’s right or considering charitable work as a technology of self care. The context and nature of the donation also affect both donor and recipient; money and blood have very different connotations and effects as charitable gifts. Ethnographies of charitable action suggest it is a total social fact, entangling economic, politics, religion and notions of relatedness.

Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2018
Publication Date Sep 5, 2018
Deposit Date May 25, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 5, 2020
Publisher Wiley
Book Title International encyclopaedia of anthropology : anthropology beyond text.
Public URL
Contract Date May 7, 2016


Accepted Book Chapter (138 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Alexander, C. (2018). Charity and philanthropy. In International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology: Anthropology Beyond Text. Callan, H. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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