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School of Business and Management

Dr Jessica Sklair


Lecturer and IHSS Fellow



Jessie is a Lecturer in the Department of Business and Society and a Fellow of the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS). Her research explores elite and corporate philanthropy, social finance and the changing role of the private sector in international development, focusing particularly on Brazil.

She 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), and a research fellowship at the Margaret Anstee Centre for Global Studies (Newnham College, University of Cambridge) before joining Queen Mary in 2022. Jessie has a masters degree in Anthropology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.


Jessie is currently working towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.


Research Interests:

Jessie's research spans four main areas, as outlined below:

Philanthrocapitalism and social finance

Jessie's PhD (partly supported by an Emslie Horniman/Sutasoma Award from the Royal Anthropological Institute) explored elite philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the rise of philanthrocapitalism in Brazil and the UK. This research informed her recent monograph on Brazilian philanthropy (Sklair 2022) as well as further publications (Sklair 2018, 2020). Jessie's postdoctoral work has extended this research to explore the rise of for-profit philanthropy, focusing on impact investing and diverse forms of social finance in Brazil. This work has been supported by a British Academy Small Research Grant (2018: ‘Impact Investing in Brazil: Reshaping the Latin American development agenda in pursuit of financial and social return’) and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019: ‘From philanthropy to impact investment: Private sector initiatives for development in Brazil and the UK’). Through these projects, Jessie has explored the relationship between recent trends in philanthropic impact investing and alternative visions for development seen in the work of social justice and human rights based CSOs in Brazil (Sklair 2020, 2021).

Jessie has also written about the financialisation of global health philanthropy through a study of vaccine bonds in the COVID-19 pandemic (Sklair & Gilbert, 2022). She is currently working on a project on innovative financing mechanisms in Middle Eastern philanthropy with Dr Farwa Sial (University of Manchester), funded by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the Cambridge Judge Business School.

Financialisation and the role of the private sector in international development

Jessie is currently a Co-I on an ESRC-funded project (2021-2024) led by PI Professor Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge), in collaboration with Co-Is Dr Paul Gilbert (University of Sussex), Dr Jo-Anna Russon (University of Nottingham) and Dr Brendan Whitty (University of East Anglia). This project explores the UK government’s procurement of services from for-profit international development consultants and contractors, in the spending of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. Further information can be found on the project's web page: Development consultants and contractors: for-profit companies in the changing world of ‘Aidland’.

In parallel, she 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. The themes in this research track are also explored in a Special Issue co-edited for Development in Practice (eds. Hart, Russon & Sklair 2021).

Wealth elites, inheritance and business succession processes

Jessie has explored how philanthropy and CSR are used by elite families and their wealth managers to support inheritance and family business succession processes. Publications on these themes include Sklair & Glucksberg (2021) and Sklair (2018).

Research methodologies for studying elites

A final strand of research explores ethical and methodological issues emerging in the study of corporate and wealth elites in different settings. These themes are the subject of a Special Issue co-edited with Dr Paul Gilbert (University of Sussex) (Gilbert & Sklair 2018).

Jessie has also written on these different strands of research in Portuguese, for academic and industry audiences in Brazil (Sklair 2020; 2019, 2010; Frúgoli & Sklair 2013, 2009).

Research Groups

Jessie is a member of the Centre on Labour and Global Production (CLGP).



  • Sklair, J. (2022) 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.


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.
  • Sklair, J. and Glucksberg, L. (2021) ‘Philanthrocapitalism as wealth management strategy: Philanthropy, inheritance and succession planning among the global elite’, The Sociological Review, 69 (2), 314-329.
  • Sklair, J. (2020) ‘Investimento de impacto e grantmaking: visões conceituais distintas para o investimento social privado brasileiro.’ [Impact investing and grantmaking: distinct visions for Brazilian private social investment]. For series Artigos GIFE, GIFE, São Paulo.
  • Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Closeness and critique among Brazilian philanthropists: Challenges for a critical ethnography of wealth elites.’ Focaal, 81, 29-42.
  • Gilbert, P. and Sklair, J. (2018) ‘Introduction: Ethnographic Engagements with Global Elites: Mutuality, Complicity & Critique.’ Focaal, 81, 1-15.
  • 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.
  • 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, 30, 119-136.


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. & Aderaldo, G. (eds.) Práticas, Conflitos, Espaços: Pesquisas em Antropologia da Cidade. São Paulo: Editora 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. & Leite, R., (eds.) Diálogos Urbanos. Coimbra: Almedina, 75-103.


Blog posts

  • Sklair, J. (2022) COVID-19 and the Financialisation of Social Care. SOAS Economics Blog
  • 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 & Alliance
  • Sklair, J. (2018) Fostering Social Business in Brazil: Interview with Maure Pessanha at Artemisia. Latin American Diaries, blog of the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of London)


Jessie is available to supervise PhD students working on: corporate social responsibility (CSR); business and development in the Global South; business sustainability; philanthropy and philanthrocapitalism; social finance; civil society and development in Latin America; wealth elites; family business succession; financialisation and development, and related themes.

Public Engagement

Jessie is a series editor for the Business, Finance and International Development book series at Bristol University Press and an Editorial Board Member for imuê, the Women and Economy Institute in Brazil. She co-convenes the Latin American Anthropology Seminar at the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS, University of London) and she is a member of the Development Studies Association Business and Development Study Group, which she co-convened from 2018-2021. From 2018-2022, Jessie was a board member of the social enterprise Sound and Fair (supplying the global musical instrument market with sustainably sourced wood from Tanzania).

Jessie's work has been quoted in Brazilian media outlets including Vice (Lopes 17/04/20) and TAB UOL Repórters na Rua (Machado 16/05/2020). She has spoken about her research at public events including ‘Reframing Vaccine Diplomacy Amid Strategic Competition: Lessons from COVID-19’ Wilson Center Webinar, June 2022.

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