Call for Abstracts for Essays in Why Charity: The Politics and Ethics of Charities and Charitable Giving Today

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CAPPE, University of Brighton
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Call for Abstracts for Essays in Why Charity: The Politics and Ethics of Charities and Charitable Giving Today

In 2014, the University of Brighton held a two-day conference on the ethics and politics of charity and charitable giving. The forty or so papers and presentations covered a wide range of topics: examinations of the day-to-day issues faced by charity workers and recipients of charity; the concomitant rise of neoliberalism, poverty and charitable giving; the shifting legal and institutional frameworks within which charity functions; the complex practices and meanings of charity in different contexts; and the possible moral legitimacy of charity as such. Although marked by significant diversity of opinion and robust contestation of particular arguments throughout, the conference culminated in a shared sense that charity ought to be unnecessary and that, in today's conjuncture, charity is to be understood as symptomatic and reflective of the social, political and economic structures that create and perpetuate poverty.

In light of that, the conference also concluded that an edited volume of essays focused on central aspects of the meaning of, and prospects for, charity today would constitute a timely and valuable intervention in the question of charity, not least given the limited nature of the extant literature.

The attached book proposal (provisionally titled, Why Charity? The Politics and Ethics of Charity Today) has been met with considerable interest from Rowman and Littlefield International. It sets out the volume's rationale, central themes, organisational structure and related matters. The core question the volume seeks to address is straightforward: how should we understand the rise and function of charity and charitable giving in relation to the structures and discourses that today produce, perpetuate and deepen inequality and poverty?

The 15 essays (of around 7000 words including footnotes and bibliography each) that comprise the volume should offer a clear examination and analysis of relevant themes in relation to that question (see below for details). The deadline for submission of final drafts is 31st December 2016

To take the project forward Rowman and Littlefield International have asked that we provide short abstracts for each proposed essay in order to flesh out the volume's contents for reviewers' consideration.

To this end, we invite abstracts of around 500 words from academics, charity workers and others that speak to the volumes' sectional headings. These headings and some of the central questions that might be addressed under each are set out at the foot of this email.

The proposal form attached provides a fuller sense of the nature of the volume. Please send abstracts to Toby Lovat by March 21st 2016, at, from whom you may also obtain any further information.

With best wishes,

The co-editors: Toby Lovat (University of Brighton), Janelle Pötzsch (Ruhr University Bochum), Lorenzo Coccoli (University of Rome) and Rachelle Bascara (Birkbeck, University of London), under the aegis of the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics (CAPPE), University of Brighton.

Sectional Headings and Related Questions

Section One: The Idea of Charity.
This section will focus on the cultural, theological and historical roots and genealogies of the meaning, nature and practices of charity.
Related questions:
- How have the meanings and functions of charity been expressed and represented in different times and places, and in different cultures and religions?
- What are the historical and genealogical roots of charity today?
- How has charity been justified at different times and places? How might charity be justified today?
- Who are the recipients of charity and how has their identity changed over time?
- What are and what have been the motives of public and private charity?
- What kinds of relation between donors and recipients is charity meant to establish in its various theorizations?

Section Two: The Politics of Charity
This section will be specifically concerned with the analysis of charity as it relates to, amongst other things, today's neoliberal conjuncture. In addition, therefore, to an analysis of the structural relationship between charity and the politics of austerity, this section will address the political economy of charity, examining, for example, the relationship between charitable funding, privatisation and welfare provision.
Related questions:
- What is the role of charity and of charities in the neoliberal dismantling of the welfare state?
- What claims do neoliberal thinkers make about private charity and how should we understand these claims?
- What kinds of subjectivity does neoliberal charity give rise to?
- Do the recipients of neoliberal charity succeed in using it to elaborate some sort of "politics of the governed"?
- Can we today distinguish between neoliberal forms of charity and others?
- What are the effects of neoliberal charity on political institutions?

Section Three: The Ethics of Charity
This section will concern ethical issues surrounding charity, again with a particular focus on the moral implications and problems of charity under neoliberalism.
Related questions:
- Is charity justice? Might it be?
- To what extent, if at all, is charitable giving an expression of the love of humankind? If it is not, then might it be?
- How and to what extent do relations of giver and receiver in charity differ from, for example, redistribution of wealth through taxation?
- If charity merely perpetuates and maintains the suffering engendered by capitalist or neoliberal relations (and attendant subjectivities) should charity be ended?
- How should we understand the tension between ameliorating immediate suffering (through, for example, charity) and the fact that charity perpetuates suffering and/or emerges from a system predicated on suffering?
- How, if at all, can we think about the difference between good and bad charity?

Section Four: The End(s) of Charity
This section will address two questions: whether, and if so, how, might charity be understood, defended and repurposed to combat and undermine the systemic production and reproduction of poverty and inequality from which it emerges; and how, if at all, might the limits of charity be overcome?
Related questions:
- What are the ends of corporate charity, and how are its patterns changing?
- How is charity used to replicate existing power relations and inequalities?
- Is there emancipatory potential in any possible or current charitable practices?
- Might charities be wholly politicized? How and in what ways?
- How might charity be used to subvert existing power relations and wealth inequalities?
- Should charity be eliminated?
- What's to be done about charity?