Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Women and philanthropy, tricksters and soul: Re-storying otherness into crossroads of change
by Edwardson, Catharine O., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010, 276; 3475545
Abstract (Summary)

Philanthropy is an important leveraging threshold for American women, especially since they now control more than 50% of the wealth in the United States. With their newfound financial empowerment, women can more effectively address the roots of social problems and make use of their experience as a marginalized Other in a patriarchal culture. However, if they are to re-model philanthropy into an opportunity for healing and change, they will need a different model, one that envisions life as well as difference differently. Contemporary culture's "monotheistic" paradigm imagines disparity to be threatening, while its devotion to perfection is completely divorced from philanthropy's soulful complexity. Moreover, how can women philanthropists avoid being corrupted by money and power when fallibility, shadow, and moral ambiguity are heroically denied?

Bringing a mythological and depth psychological approach to philanthropy, I argue that a fuller understanding of the paradigm of the trickster, an inherently unconventional figure, would provide women with a valuable alternative path to philanthropy, one that not only mirrors soul but also opens the way to real change by re-imagining marginality, Otherness, and difference. Coming from a polytheistic heritage, the trickster honors a multiplicity of viewpoints. The metaphorical application of trickster's dynamics to philanthropy highlights the reciprocity of philanthropic giving, and its connection to individuation engenders inner and outer transformative journeys that enable philanthropists to change as they work for change. Additionally, trickster's paradoxical doubleness grounds while opening up possibilities, heals while creating conflict, and inspires while encouraging an acceptance of all that it means to be human, reminding us that philanthropy is etymologically tied to the love of humankind.

The argument is developed through various analogies between Greek, West African, African American, and Native American tricksters and conceptions of soul, philanthropy, and women. These analogies are supported by specific trickster tales as well as real-life examples of women philanthropists working for cultural transformation. Ultimately, the metamorphoses turn out to be reciprocal because when a character known for selfishness and greed is ironically associated with love and generosity, his image is restored even as it stories the individuation of women, philanthropy, and their culture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Grillo, Laura S.
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, Womens studies, Comparative, Psychology
Keywords: Depth psychology, Mythology, Otherness, Philanthropy, Soul, Trickster, Women philanthropists
Publication Number: 3475545
ISBN: 978-1-124-88431-8
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