Embodied Causes: Climbing, Charity, and ‘Celanthropy’

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Women have played significant roles in the emergence of the charity climbing expedition. This study maps key selective historical developments in the evolution of humanitarian, philanthropic, and charitable works involving the climbing community from the 1960s to the present and the formation of the ‘climbing-charity-corporate-complex’. In this process some climbers have evolved into ‘celanthropists’, celebrity philanthropists as the sociologist Chris Rojek has employed the term. Celanthropists are individuals who have come to public prominence on behalf of charitable causes through brand endorsement and philanthropic activisms. Focusing on a range of prominent British women who have climbed Everest, including Rebecca Stephens, Annabelle Bond, and retired Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, reveals the forms of emotional and embodied labour that have been essential to their ability to climb for a cause and their subsequent heroic reception as celanthropists. Their cases raise important questions concerning the gendering of ‘physical philanthropy’ and the nature of post-feminism in sport in its treatment of female individualism and the historically resilient ambivalences afforded to women’s climbing achievements.




Gilchrist, P. (2020). Embodied Causes: Climbing, Charity, and ‘Celanthropy.’ International Journal of the History of Sport, 709–726. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2020.1783250

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