We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Charity and philanthropy.

Alexander, C. (2018) 'Charity and philanthropy.', in International encyclopaedia of anthropology : anthropology beyond text. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


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.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher 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.
Date accepted:07 May 2016
Date deposited:25 May 2016
Date of first online publication:05 September 2018
Date first made open access:05 September 2020

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar