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A Historical Survey of Indigenous Chinese Philanthropy, 1550-1953

GCPI Working Paper 4: David, Kyle (2016).



This paper provides a historical overview of indigenous Chinese philanthropy from 1550 to 1953. This four-hundred-year period stretches from the late Ming dynasty to the early years of the People's Republic of China (PRC). A brief examination of this era illustrates that both the Chinese state and private individuals have engaged with and contributed to a long tradition of indigenous philanthropic practice. In being consistent with the Global Chinese Philanthropy Initiative overview, this paper aims to elucidate the historic practices of Chinese philanthropy and the motivations of its actors. By charting the historical record, this paper provides a "genealogy of charitable thought" (Smith 2009, 252) with the intention of illuminating shifts in philanthropic context and practice.

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