Wei Natalie Gan

Anthropology Graduate Student

Wei Gan comes to Princeton with a B.A. in cultural anthropology from Duke University, for which she completed an ethnography of conspiracy theorists in Texas. After spending some years bartending and running a vegan ice cream company in New York City, she is now a PhD student interested broadly in the relationship between philanthropy and social change. Wei’s dissertation research explores the universe of what she calls philanthroactivism, which she conceptualizes as a complex, dynamical system by which the disbursement of resources through philanthropy is constitutive of efforts to promote social change and sometimes coterminous with them. More specifically, her work investigates the ways in which Asian American philanthroactivism seeks to achieve racial and social justice via the redistribution of capital. As a unique lens into the entanglement of capital and justice work, Wei’s study provides insight into the infrastructures and mechanisms that catalyze and sustain social movements more generally and addresses larger questions about race, capital, and citizenship.