Embodied causes: climbing, charity and 'celanthropy'

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Abstract

This article investigates women’s involvement in the emergence of the charity climbing expedition. It 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’. The special focus is on the evolution of the climber as ‘celanthropist’ (Rojek, 2014) – individuals that have come to public prominence on behalf of charitable causes through brand endorsement and philanthropic activisms. By focusing on a range of prominent British women who have climbed Everest, including Rebecca Stephens, Annabelle Bond and retired Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, the paper 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of the History of Sport
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Oct 2019

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Keywords

  • high-altitude mountaineering
  • celebrity
  • charity
  • post-feminism
  • Everest

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