Dr Jessica Sklair




Dr Jessica Sklair is an anthropologist working on philanthropy and the changing role of the private sector in international development in Brazil and the UK. Her research spans three main areas: (i) elite philanthropy, philanthrocapitalism and ‘impact investing’ in Brazil; (ii) financialisation and the role of the private sector in international development, and (iii) wealth elites, inheritance and business succession processes in Brazil.

Dr Sklair’s work involved two research projects. The first (led by PI Professor Emma Mawdsley, in collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge, Sussex, Nottingham and East Anglia) was an ESRC-funded project exploring the UK government’s procurement of services from for-profit consultants and contractors in the spending of the ODA (Official Development Assistance) budget. The second (in partnership with Dr Farwa Sial at the European Network on Debt and Development and funded by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the Cambridge University Judge Business School) explored the adoption of innovative financing mechanisms by philanthropic foundations in the Middle East. In parallel, Dr Sklair is working on design of a further project (in partnership with colleagues at the Universidade Federal de São Carlos in Brazil) looking at processes of financialisation within Brazil’s development sector. Her recent book Brazilian Elites and their Philanthropy: Wealth at the Service of Developmentis published by Routledge in their Studies in Latin American Development Series.


Dr Sklair 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 at Newnham College, Cambridge 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. Dr Sklair was an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of London) from 2018-2021 and a convenor of the Development Studies Association Business and Development Study Group from 2019-2021. She is an Editor of Bristol University Press’s ‘Business, Finance and International Development’ book series and a Teaching Associate at the Cambridge Centre of Latin American Studies, and she supervises undergraduates in the Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge.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).


Edited Special Issues

Hart, J., Russon, J. and Sklair, J. (eds.) (2021) ‘The Private Sector in the Development Landscape: Partnerships, Power, Possibility’, Development in Practice,31(7).

Gilbert, P. and Sklair, J. (eds.) (2018) ‘Mutuality, Complicity & Critique in the Ethnography of Global Elites’, Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 81.


Sklair, J. and Gilbert, P. (2022) ‘Giving as “De-Risking”: Philanthropy, Impact Investment and the Pandemic Response‘, Public Anthropologist, 4(1), 51-77.

Hart, J., Russon, J. and Sklair, J. (2021) ‘Introduction: The Private Sector in the Development Landscape: Partnerships, Power, and Questionable Possibilities’, Development in Practice,31(7), 857-871. https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2021.1966172

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.


Sklair, J. (2021) Brazilian Elites and their Philanthropy: Wealth at the service of development. London and New York: Routledge.

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.

Book Chapters

Sklair, J. (2021) ‘Development opportunity or national crisis? The implications of Brazil’s political shift for elite philanthropy and civil society organizing.’ In: Hatzikidi, K. and Dullo, E. (eds.) A Horizon of (Im)Possibilities: A Chronicle of Brazil’s Conservative Turn. London: University of London Press.

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.

Blog Posts

Sklair, J. (2022) ‘COVID-19 and the Financialisation of Social Care’, SOAS Economics Bloghttps://study.soas.ac.uk/covid-19-financialisation-social-care/

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 Diarieshttps://latinamericandiaries.blogs.sas.ac.uk/2018/05/11/fostering-social-business-in-brazil-interview-with-maure-pessanha-at-artemisia/