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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/ezf6-qv83

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Philanthropy and Social Finance in China





Following market reforms in the late 1970s, the People’s Republic of China has undergone a host of dramatic transformations. The nation’s skyrocketing GDP has recently been echoed in the growth of the charitable sector: reports show that philanthropic giving in China rose from just over $400 million to almost $25 billion over ten years, while the number of domestic foundations grew from around 1,000 to over 6,000 over the same period. On the one hand, China seems to be telescoping two hundred years of equivalent economic development in the U.S. into a mere four decades, and the recent emergence of contemporary philanthropy and social finance appear as a natural stage in this development process•comparable to the charity of American Gilded Age titans such as Carnegie and Rockefeller. On the other, ethnographic attention to this “new phenomenon” challenges the oversimplification of this Eurocentric narrative, and opens up nuanced insights into a variety of ways of doing “philanthropy” or being “philanthropic” that not only draw from imported Western models, but also invoke “traditional” Chinese values and practices, socialist ethics, and novel modes of giving that are appearing in elite circles as well as at the grassroots level, and at intersections of religious and secular, governmental and non-governmental organizations and initiatives. This panel explores the growing sector of philanthropy and social finance in China. Conversations about philanthropy in this context enlist interlocutors not only in the charity space but also those from nonprofits, private industry, and financial services. We address topics related, but not limited, to the following questions: Is philanthropy Chinese? How are Chinese charitable and social finance practices part of global flows of artifacts and ideas? What are the geopolitical and economic stakes and implications of Chinese philanthropic projects, both nationally and abroad? What is the relationship between philanthropy, charity, and hybrid modes of “doing well and doing good,” such as impact investing and social entrepreneurship, in China? Might examining the intersection of markets and morals in China contribute novel perspectives to scholarship such as that on exchange and reciprocity, the political economy of capitalism, and disaster and crises? How do conversations and practices taking place in China push at the edges of, and even move us beyond, the term/concept of “philanthropy”? We envision a wide-ranging discussion about the ways in which China, through philanthropy and social finance, participates in imagining humanity’s future on this shared planet.


Transcript English (automatic)

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