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Capitalist Humanitarianism
by Lucia Hulsether
Duke University Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-1-4780-2383-8 | Cloth: 978-1-4780-1656-4 | Paper: 978-1-4780-1920-6
Library of Congress Classification BR115.C3H85 2023

The struggle against neoliberal order has gained momentum over the last five decades---to the point that economic elites have not only adapted to the Left's critiques but incorporated them for capitalist expansion. Venture funds expose their ties to slavery and pledge to invest in racial equity. Banks pitch microloans as a path to indigenous self-determination. Fair-trade brands narrate consumption as an act of feminist solidarity with women artisans in the global South. In Capitalist Humanitarianism Lucia Hulsether examines these projects and the contexts of their emergence. Blending historical and ethnographic styles, and traversing intimate and global scales, Hulsether tracks how neoliberal self-critique creates new institutional hegemonies that, in turn, reproduce racial and neocolonial dispossession. From the archives of Christian fair traders to luxury social entrepreneurship conferences, from US finance offices to Guatemalan towns flooded with their loan products, from service economy desperation to the internal contradictions of social movements, Hulsether argues that capitalist humanitarian projects are fueled as much by a profit motive as by a hope that racial capitalism can redeem the losses that accumulate in its wake.
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