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  2. Introduction : Global humanitarianism and media culture
  3. Reward Yourself
  4. Celebrity Humanitarianism

The girls are racialized — their black skin color speaks for their lower social, cultural and economic status. What kinds of associations does the white girl make when she stares at the objectified black pregnant girl? The street picture, mainstream media and politics in Finland are predominantly occupied by white people and portray a high degree of homogeneity. The image of the black pregnant girl provides a sufficient contrast to the rapid progress of Finland from a colonized country to a nation pioneering gender equality — the new gender-neutral school curriculum is a most recent attestation of this.

The challenge is how to create non-hierarchical and emancipatory relationships. The local complexities and problems plaguing Zambia such as extractive forms of capitalism, mine industry in particular, reminiscent of the colonial period would otherwise overwhelm the campaign planners Fredriksen In fact, Zambia is mentioned in the campaign video only when two Finnish celebrities travel there with their crew. The other celebrity of the campaign is fashion designer Paola Suhonen.

In order to sell the campaign to broad audiences and attract donors, early motherhood is isolated from other issues and global power relations Kapoor It normalizes the position of Finland among the developed and progressive nations. With an astonishing accuracy, the campaign video follows the pattern of celebrity humanitarianism seen in other contexts. Soon the scenes on the screen change — clean airport environment and the take away latte are replaced by shantytowns.

From behind their sunglasses in the safety of the SUV-car, the two white Finnish women glance outdoors. Upon their arrival in the destination, the Finnish celebrity assumes the role of an expert. From the unnamed location, she explains to the Finnish audience the causal relationship between child marriages and child pregnancies.

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As post-colonial scholars frequently remind us, representations of third world women as passive and deprived of their agency have a long history. Nothing would visualize this better than what ensues in the video: while we hear the voice of the Finnish speaker in the background, the camera turns to the black girls. Indeed, the girls constitute the opposite image of the Finnish photographer who sits her back straight and wears jewelry. Hence, the campaign follows a market logic — everything becomes sellable, even the big belly of an under aged girl Biccum Just as the careers of development aid workers are connected to their places of origin Smirli or their organizations with headquarters in Western capitals, so is the fame of the Finnish celebrities connected to their place of origin — art circles, fashion world and Finland.

De Lauri The campaign video ends with a short fashion shoot. Fridah poses on the field while the Finnish fashion designer explains the reasons behind her choices of color and style. The video limits the conditions of possibility to the benevolence of the white Finnish donors.


At the same time the local meanings, such as the colorful fabrics and daily joys of the people are not given any value but obliterated. The campaign that is sold to the Finnish audience by statistical numbers, technical knowledge and racialized images, further normalizes the position of the Finns on the side of the saviors. Abu-Lughold, Lila. Do Muslim Women need saving? Biccum, April R. What might celebrity humanitarianism have to do with empire?

De Lauri, Antonio ed. Eikenberry, A. Fredriksen, Tomas. She is famous, attractive and a hard worker. In this situation, Jolie perpetuated a geopolitics of hope that foregrounded sentimental rather than political concerns. The depoliticization of her visit to the camp that emerged in the media obscured the widespread geopolitics of the roots of the crisis that would contextualize the situation of Burmese exiles in the border zone. This might have included deeper engagement with the roots of the refugee crisis that are related to the regime in Myanmar, human rights abuses, and persecution of minority groups.

In this case, the presence of a celebrity affected the interpretation of the refugee situation by sentimentalizing the Global South in a manner that would have consequences in the donor North. Affleck took steps to build expertise through reading and repeated trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC , where he met with grassroots organizations.

This type of activity marshals the experiences and proposals of the celebrity to bear on policymaking processes about aid and foreign policy and privileges their status as transnational elite actors. As the cofounder and leading spokesperson for ECI, Affleck serves as both celebrity humanitarian and expert, speaking on behalf of the Congo to a wider public and political elites in the North through op-eds, media appearances, and speeches.

Budabin argues that with this elite network support, Affleck was primed to enter US political circles and build influence. Despite being a relatively new player in the humanitarian politics of Washington, D. Between and he appeared before three congressional hearings related to the DRC, demonstrating the credibility he has earned to address and influence US lawmakers.

The solutions he proposes often reflect hegemonic narratives used to justify Western interventions that have thus far proved ineffective in rebuilding the DRC see Autesserre With their potential for influence and access to political capital, celebrity experts threaten development processes by coalescing political and financial elite support in the donor North for celebrity figures, rather than following a path of public consultation and evaluation based in the Global South. Celebrity humanitarians play a different type of bridging function when they establish their own NGOs in the Global South and interact with the politics of development on the ground.

In these cases, celebrity humanitarians are not beholden to the agendas of global institutions and can formulate unique visions to address development challenges in a site of their choosing. They bring resources from the donor North and engage with local publics and elites to establish development NGOs and longer-term projects. Instead, her humanitarian initiatives quickly became controversial, both globally and locally. While global responses echoed many of the criticisms cited above concerning motives and methods of celebrity figures seeking to better an African country, the local perspective offers a richer picture of the work of a celebrity humanitarian and the possibilities for engendering public discussion around development interventions.

Rasmussen found that some Malawians consider Madonna a person who cynically exploits poor Africans to promote her own brand, making grand promises that never materialize. However, to other Malawians, Madonna is a worthy humanitarian who is at least doing something, in contrast to local elites, who are viewed as even more corrupt and self-serving than the global superstar. The interventions of a celebrity humanitarian raised suspicions about the motivations of foreign development actors who fail to meet local expectations or follow local protocol. But local elites were also held accountable alongside foreign NGOs for benefiting from these partnerships while shortchanging the rest of Malawi.

Here, the study of a celebrity humanitarian provides a lens on the local disruption created by celebrities as transnational elite actors who receive varied responses in recipient communities and provoke debates about development that reveal local power dynamics and diverse agendas. The controversy generated by her presence in Malawi reveals collateral effects of celebrity humanitarianism that cut both ways.

Indeed, suspicion and disregard heaped on a celebrity humanitarian from the donor North bred further disenchantment with the role played by foreign actors in the Global South. This article explored the figure of the celebrity as an influential actor in international affairs, particularly in the shaping of North-South relations. With their entanglement in local, national, and global governance, celebrities are acting as other elite actors in international affairs: converting their capital into economic, social, and political resources that transform the traditional practices of transnational politics without disrupting relations of power.

The cases of Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, and Madonna draw attention to the various ways in which celebrities perform in international affairs. We find that their acquired functions as diplomats, experts, and humanitarians demonstrate the reach and influence of celebrity engagement in elite policymaking circles.

The exception among our cases is, perhaps surprisingly, Madonna, whose presence unexpectedly opened a channel for challenging local elites and corrupt aid practices, at least discursively. The material future of local livelihoods in both North and South will suffer for lack of transparency and legitimate authority if elites continue to dominate international affairs under the justification of humanitarianism.

Deepening our understanding of celebrities as transnational elite actors will further illuminate the complex web of interactions and power relations that characterizes the contemporary political landscape. Abrahamsen, R. Find this resource:. Alberoni, F. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Autesserre, S. Barnett, M. Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism. Belloni, R. Boltanski, L.

Introduction : Global humanitarianism and media culture

De la justification. NRF essais. Paris: Gallimard. Brockington, D. Celebrity Advocacy and International Development.

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London and New York: Routledge. Budabin, A. Richey, — Oxford: Routledge. Cashmore, E. Celebrity Culture: Key Ideas.

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Chouliaraki, L. The Spectatorship of Suffering. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Cooper, A. Celebrity Diplomacy.

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    Dieter, H. Driessens, O. Duncombe, S. New York: The New Press. Dyer, R. London: BFI Publishing. Fassin, D. Berkeley: University of California Press. Goodman, M. Hansen, R. Holmes, S. Hood, J. Jeffreys and L. Edwards, 85— Huliaras, A. Kapoor, I. New York: Routledge. Littler, J. Celebrity Charity and the Demise of the Welfare State. Lowenthal, L. Marks, M.

    Celebrity Humanitarianism

    Marshall, P. Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Mostafanezhad, M. Richey, 27— Mupotsa, D. Richey, 88— Partzsch, L. Rasmussen, L. Richey, 48— Repo, J. Richey, L. Celebrities, Consumption and International Aid. A Quadrant Book.

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