Dr Jessica Sklair



Jessie’s doctoral research explored philanthropy among economic elites in Brazil and the UK, and the ideological foundations for the growth of ‘philanthrocapitalism’ in both countries. In parallel, it examined the role played by philanthropy in the creation of positive identities of wealth and the ways that philanthropy is used to aid processes of inheritance and family business succession in elite families. 

Jessie’s postdoctoral work (partly funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant) has explored new philanthropic practices in Brazil, with particular focus on impact investing – the practice by which investors finance social businesses and Bottom of the Pyramid schemes, in the search for both financial return and social impact. Jessie is interested in how this and related practices signify attempts by corporate and philanthropic elites – and increasingly, by national and international development agencies – to provide market-based solutions to enduring development challenges in Latin America, framing global capitalism as the solution rather than the cause of growing inequity and environmental destruction in the region. Jessie is currently working on two new research projects. The first (in collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge, Sussex, Nottingham and East Anglia) explores the contracting relationship between the UK’s Department for International Development and the ‘Big Four’ management consultancy firms, and the second (in partnership with colleagues at the Universidade Federal de São Carlos in Brazil) looks at the relationship between the financialization of the Brazilian economy and the growing influence of processes of financialization within the country’s development sector. 

Jessie has teaching experience at undergraduate, masters and PhD level in areas including the anthropology of development, economic and political anthropology, qualitative research methods and visual anthropology.


Jessie received her PhD in Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017 and held postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute of Latin American Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London) and the University of Sussex (SeNSS/ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship) before joining the Margaret Anstee Centre in 2019. She has a Masters degree in Anthropology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil and a B.A. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Jessie is an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of London) and a convener of the Development Studies Association Business and Development Study Group. She is also a board member of the social enterprise Sound and Fair (supplying the global musical instrument market with sustainably sourced wood from Tanzania). For more information on the Development Studies Association Business and Development Study Group please see: https://www.devstud.org.uk/study-groups/business-and-development


Sklair, J. and Glucksberg, L. (2020) ‘Philanthrocapitalism as wealth management strategy: Philanthropy, inheritance and succession planning among the global elite.’ The Sociological Review. October 2020. doi: 10.1177/0038026120963479

Sklair, J. (2020) ‘Investimento de impacto e grantmaking: Visões conceituais distintas para o investimento social privado brasileiro.’ Artigos GIFE, v. 2, n. 1, artigo 2. doi: 10.33816/gife.20200201a2

Gilbert, P. R. and Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Introduction: Ethnographic Engagements with Global Elites: Mutuality, Complicity & Critique.’ Focaal Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 81, 1-15.

Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Closeness and critique among Brazilian philanthropists: Challenges for a critical ethnography of wealth elites.’ Focaal Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 81, 29-42. 

Sklair, J. (2016) ‘Philanthropy as Salvation: Can the rich save the world and should we let them try?’ Voices from Around the World (Online Journal, Global South Studies Center Cologne), Jan. Issue.

Frúgoli Jr., H. and Sklair, J. (2009) ‘O Bairro da Luz em São Paulo: Questões antropológicas sobre o fenômeno da gentrification.’ [The Luz District in São Paulo: Anthropological questions on the phenomenon of gentrification] Cuadernos de Antropología Social (Argentina), 30, 119-136.

Book Chapters

Sklair, J. (2019) Direitos e responsabilidades: Filantropia e a provisão de serviços de saúde em uma favela paulistana. [Rights and Responsibilities: Philanthropy and the provision of healthcare in a São Paulo shanty town]. In: Frúgoli Jr., H., Spaggiari, E. and Aderaldo, G. (eds.) Práticas, Conflitos, Espaços: Pesquisas em Antropologia da Cidade. Rio de Janeiro: Gramma. 

Frúgoli Jr., H. and Sklair, J. (2013) ‘O bairro da Luz (São Paulo) e o Bairro Alto (Lisboa) nos entremeios de mudanças e permanências.’ [The Luz district and the Bairro Alto district: Caught between change and permanency]. In: Fortuna, C. and Leite, R., (eds.) Diálogos Urbanos: Territórios, culturas, patrimónios. Coimbra: Almedina.


Sklair, J. (2010) A Filantropia Paulistana: Açoes sociais em uma cidade segregada. [Philanthropy in São Paulo: Social projects in a segregated city.] São Paulo: Editora Humanitas.

Blog Posts

Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Will Brazilian philanthropy leapfrog the ‘grantmaking phase’ and move directly to an impact investing model?’, Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace Blog.

Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Fostering Social Business in Brazil: Interview with Maure Pessanha at Artemisia’, The Latin American Diaries. https://latinamericandiaries.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2018/05/11/fostering-social-business-in-brazil-interview-with-maure-pessanha-at-artemisia/