Will the Revolution be Funded? Resource Mobilization and the California Farm Worker Movement
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This paper describes how the philanthropic investments of the Max L. Rosenberg Foundation contributed to the emergence of the historic California Farm Worker Movement and argues that foundations do not always have articulated or clear-cut political agendas to dilute organizing campaigns; instead moments of agreement (and antagonism) emerge and are fluidly negotiated as points of convergence appear and disappear.
Cultural Organizing as Critical Praxis: Tamejavi Builds Immigrant Voice, Belonging, and Power
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Established in 1998, the American Friends Service Committee’s Pan Valley Institute (PVI) is a popular education center located in Fresno, California. Since its inception, PVI has placed a high value on what immigrants bring with them to this country—their experiences, abilities, and cultural practices, which are often informed by prolonged and daily struggles against economic and social injustice. This article profiles PVI’s “cultural organizing” work that supports immigrant cultural leaders representing the Valley’s diverse populations. In conclusion, three contributions are highlighted that the Tamejavi approach brings to academic conversations about art as social practice.
Governing Poverty Amidst Plenty: Participatory Development and Private Philanthropy
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This paper explores the current debates surrounding how large-scale poverty programs structure the actions and strategies of regional community-based institutions. I specifically interrogate how processes of professionalization and ‘participatory’ ideas promoted through public and private funders are negotiated by institutional ‘grantees’, and ultimately structure the ways in which historic social movement organizations build institutions and organizing strategies. A review of the major debates surrounding ‘participatory development’ in the fields of critical development studies and American poverty scholarship is approached through a specific case study in California’s Central Valley.
The Presentation of Self in Philanthropic Life: The political negotiations of the foundation program officer
Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography
This paper explores the negotiations of foundation program officers who aim to challenge structural inequality across regional geographies of poverty. Beyond the limits to confronting capitalist relationships of production as discussed in critical philanthropy literature, this paper shows how the professional “grantor–grantee” relationship reproduces institutional structures of power. Through the lens of Erving Goffman's “presentation of self” and data from archival and ethnographic research on immigrant and farmworker funding in California's Central Valley and recent interviews with program staff at large foundations in New York City, the paper suggests that Goffman's concepts of performance, idealization, negative idealization, and disruption expand upon a Gramscian theorization of hegemony by highlighting a micro-sociology of power. Building consensus among greatly unequal actors and managing idealized stories about poverty and philanthropy, the foundation program officer brokers political opportunity for grassroots organizations and yet more commonly generates consent. Read the Full Article »
The Self-Help Myth: Towards a Theory of Philanthropy as Consensus Broker
American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Volume 74, Issue 4, pages 796-825
This article presents a theoretical and methodological approach to studying how philanthropic power is maintained through the process of negotiating consensus between greatly unequal partners such as wealthy funders and social movement leaders. It is proposed that grant agreements between private foundations and social movement organizations construct idealized spaces of public participation and discursive theories of change that draw attention away from structural inequality and antagonism, ultimately generating consent. Drawing upon archival and ethnographic research on philanthropic investments in addressing migrant poverty in California's Central Valley, the article shows how consensus between foundation staff and farmworker and immigrant organizers promote funding frameworks that exclude questions that challenge relationships of power and systems of agricultural production that contribute to enduring poverty across the region. The Gramscian conceptual frames of “discursive power,” “hegemony as politics,” and “strategic articulation” are presented as a theoretical framework from which to understand the power of private philanthropy as consensus broker during historical moments of crisis.