Lisa Ann Richey is Professor of International Development Studies and Director of the Doctoral School of Society and Globalisation at Roskilde University in Denmark. She will give the lecture Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations on September 9, at 9.00 in JMK-salen.

About the lecture:
Discussion over celebrity engagement is often limited to theoretical critique or normative name-calling, without much grounded research into what it is that celebrities are doing, the same or differently throughout the world. Crucially, little attention has been paid to the Global South, either as a place where celebrities intervene into existing politics and social processes, or as the generator of Southern celebrities engaged in ‘do-gooding’. Drawing on a newly-released book, this lecture examines what the diverse roster of celebrity humanitarians are actually doing in and across North and South contexts. Celebrity humanitarianism is an effective lens for viewing the multiple and diverse relationships that constitute the links between North and South. My lecture will situate the overarching questions of celebrity humanitarianism within academic debates from the interdisciplinary literature on aid celebrities, the literature on celebrities and representation of “Others,” and the emerging literature on new actors and alliances in North–South relations. I argue that as celebrities (and corporations) become increasingly involved in shaping the meanings of humanitarianism, the field itself will be increasingly shifted toward the elite, the profitable and the photogenic. Yet, grounded research is needed to illustrate the impact of celebrity humanitarianism in the Global South and celebritization, participation and democratization in the donor North. By investigating one of the most mediatized and distant representations of humanitarianism (the celebrity intervention) from a perspective of contextualization, the lecture underscores the importance of context in understanding humanitarianism.

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