June 21, 2018
This forum examines the role of charity in empire formations from a diachronic and transregional perspective. It focuses upon the beliefs, discourses, and practices of charity that developed within Christianity and the roles they played in the West’s imperial projects, from the first global empires that emerged from the Iberian Peninsula in the sixteenth century to projects of philanthro-imperialism in modern China. This forum exposes the complex religious, economic, political, and cultural roles that charity has played in imperial projects and increases our consciousness of the ways it continues to shape global politics. It shines light on the way in which governing bodies, institutions, and individuals have instrumentalized charity to achieve a range of strategic functions whilst shaping the narrative and image of their power. Viewing empire through the lens of charity also provides the opportunity to bring not only the rich but also the poor into focus and to explore the ways they have been active subjects negotiating for a range of material and immaterial resources in imperial contexts.