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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Dr Tom Widger

Widger, Tom (2016). Philanthronationalism: junctures at the business-charity nexus in post-war Sri Lanka. Development and Change 47(1): 29-50.

Author(s) from Durham


Over the past few years, the role of private sector organizations as actors and investors in development processes has received increased attention. This article explores the rise of ‘philanthronationalism’ in Sri Lanka: the co-development of business and philanthropy methods as a response to patronage, nationalization and militarization in the post-war environment. Drawing on ethnographic research into indigenous forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the article identifies four kinds of philanthronationalist practice — passive, assimilative, reactive and collaborative — that provide a logic, mechanism and ethic for private sector development initiatives in the island whilst promoting a vision of the ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ nation state. Noting the emergence of similar philanthronationalist practices in Myanmar, the article concludes by arguing that the Sri Lankan case is unlikely to be unique and calls for further research into the partnerships that emerge between private philanthropy and nationalist movements in conflict/post-conflict processes around the world.