Join us Thursday, April 19, at 12:30 pm, for a discussion with:
Amy Schiller, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, on “Philanthropy’s Political Matrix: A Political Theory Treatment of Philanthropy’s Evolution and Present Discourse”
Abstract: As major philanthropic giving becomes more influential in public institutions, explorations of philanthropy focus on the ways in which private money creates relationships of dependency and heightens elite control over public institutions. Amy Schiller proposes a framework for philanthropy to, under certain conditions, build and care for a common world. After reading Hannah Arendt on culture alongside Bonnie Honig’s Public Things (2017), Schiller locates compatibilities in philanthropic gifts that create and maintain enduring spaces and institutions. If philanthropy provides for parks, galleries, museums, monuments, plazas, and other spaces designed to anchor the human world, can philanthropy then contribute to worldliness? This paper asks how philanthropy can manifest key principles for Arendt’s political ideal, namely, non-instrumentality, permanence, and plurality. Schiller explores whether a “philanthropy ethics” can exist in contrast to the anti-democratic tendencies of what Ella Myers (2013) calls “charitable ethics.” Where charitable ethics are reductive, hierarchical and anti-political, this paper locates possibilities of solidarity, in which philanthropically-funded world-building encourages people to look beyond immediate instrumentality. Following Arendt further, Schiller explores the significance of contingency and the possibility of philanthropic surrender of control to enacting this vision of philanthropy’s political potential. Alongside the substantial neoliberal trends in philanthropy, Schiller’s effort frames philanthropy’s role in public life based on philanthropists’ commitment to an enduring world, and to sharing with others the responsibility for its care.
Join us in room 5401, the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.