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School of Business and Management

Dr Jessica Sklair


Lecturer and IHSS Fellow




I am an anthropologist researching elite and corporate philanthropy, ‘sustainable finance’ and the financialisation of international development, focusing particularly on Brazil.


I received my 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. I have a masters degree in Anthropology from the University of São Paulo, Brazil and a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.


BUSM217 Sustainable Finance


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


Research Interests:

My research spans four areas:


Philanthrocapitalism and social finance

My 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 my recent monograph on Brazilian philanthropy (Sklair 2022) as well as further publications (Sklair 2018, 2020). My postdoctoral work 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 was 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, I have 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, 2023, 2024).


I have also written about the financialisation of global health philanthropy through a study of vaccine bonds in the COVID-19 pandemic (Sklair & Gilbert, 2022), and recently completed a study 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

I am currently a Co-I on an ESRC-funded project (2021-2025) led by PI Professor Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge), in collaboration with Co-Is Dr Paul Gilbert and Dr Olivia Taylor (University of Sussex), Dr Jo-Anna Russon (University of Nottingham) and Dr Brendan Whitty (University of St Andrews). 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, I am working 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

I have 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).


I have also written on these different strands of research in Portuguese, for academic and industry audiences in Brazil (Sklair 2024, 2020, 2019, 2010; Frúgoli & Sklair 2013, 2009).


Research Groups

I am a member of the Centre on Labour, Sustainability and Global Production (CLaSP), and a co-editor of the CLaSP Blog, and I sit on the Steering Committee of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CRoLAC). I am also a member of the Brazilian Research Network on Financialization in Comparative Perspective.




  • 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.




Book chapters

  • Sklair, J. (2024) 'A Financeirização da Filantropia: Investimento de Impacto e o Novo Modelo de Desenvolvimento Social.' In Lavinas, L., Martins, N. M., Gonçalves, G. L. & Van Waeyenberge, E. (Eds.) Financeirização: crise, estagnação e desigualdade. São Paulo: Contracorrente: 585-623.
  • 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.


Reports, Blog posts and Other


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

Public Engagement

I am 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. I co-convene the Latin American Ethnography Seminar at the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS, University of London) and the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CRoLAC, QMUL) and am a member of the Development Studies Association Business and Development Study Group, which I co-convened from 2018-2021. From 2018-2022, I was a board member of the social enterprise Sound and Fair (supplying the global musical instrument market with sustainably sourced wood from Tanzania).


My work has been quoted in Brazilian media outlets including Black media platform Revista Afirmativa (Franco 16/12/23), GIFE (2023)Vice (Lopes 17/04/20) and TAB UOL Repórters na Rua (Machado 16/05/2020). I have spoken about my research at public events including ‘Decolonising Philanthropy’ Alliance Webinar, Sept 2022 and ‘Reframing Vaccine Diplomacy Amid Strategic Competition: Lessons from COVID-19’ Wilson Center Webinar, June 2022.

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