About the working group

Definitions of poverty abound, but often depend upon systems of equivalence and measures of purchasing power that fail to capture the complicated state of being that human poverty represents. When and why did the concept of "poverty" emerge historically? What are the political and social implications of defining poverty as a lack of (human and natural) resources or cultural capacities? How have race, gender, and culture informed explanations of poverty as either an individual and behavioral problem or a result of systemic failure? The Andrew W. Mellon Seminar on Poverty will attempt to answer these questions and examine how the humanities can contribute to a better understanding of poverty, and rethink its historical and contemporary definition via academic, political and cultural discourses.