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About the Books

Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations

Collection edited by Lisa Ann Richey

This book argues 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.

It is comprised of grounded empirical cases to answer the following questions:

  • How do celebrities mediate elite politics between North and South?

Particularly in chapters 3 (Schwittay), 6 (Budabin), 7 (Rosamond) and 8 (Olwig & Christiansen).

  • Which publics are engaged in diverse places, through which celebritized means and what does this mean for politics?

Particularly in chapters 7 (Rosamond), 8 (Olwig & Christansen) and 9 (van Krieken).


  • How do celebritized interventions impact local politics of development that take place in the South?

Particularly in chapters 1 (Mostafanezhad), 2 (Rasmussen), 4 (Mupotsa), and 5 (Hood).


  • How can the perspective of Southern celebrities shape our understanding of development practices?

Particularly in chapters 3 (Schwittay), 4 (Mupotsa), and 5 (Hood).


  • How do humanitarian representations of power (concepts of “need” and agency) change in different places as celebrities try to “sell” a particular cause to a particular audience?

Particularly in chapters 1 (Mostafanezhad), 3 (Schwittay), 4 (Mupostsa), 6 (Budabin),

7 (Rosamond) and 9 (van Krieken).

These research questions are addressed by thematically-organized chapters divided across two themes:


  1. What impact do celebrities have in the global South?

  2. What does celebrity engagement mean in the donor North?


The use of the term “North–South relations” has been outlined above as describing the scope of analysis in each chapter’s case studies, but further clarification is necessary to explain why the book is organized according to what our critics might argue is an artificial divide between North and South, or clinging to unhelpful typology between geopolitical spheres of “oppressor” and “oppressed.”


For more information on an international network of researchers working on celebrity and North-South relations see the website here.



Before that, Lisa Ann Richey also worked with Stefano Ponte to explore the the business angle on celebrities in brand aid initiatives.

Our book, Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World examined global AIDS funding to understand the implications of selling cause-marketed ‘RED Products’ to support African causes. We developed this new concept to identify when products are sold by celebrities to support worthy causes, to Western consumers who want to engage in low-cost heroism. From our in-depth case study of Product RED, we argued that Brand Aid is a game changer in both representing and communicating humanitarian possibilities and in convening new actors in response to them.

For more about it see the Brand Aid website here.

Celebrity Advocacy and International Development

By Dan Brockington

This book examines the rise of celebrity advocacy, especially in the UK and examines its consequences for politics, development and audiences. One of its surprising conclusions is that interest in celebrity advocacy is strangely muted in UK publics, the other is that that non-reaction does not make any difference at all to the effectiveness of celebrity advocacy. You can see how Dan explains that paradox in here.

Dan's book has been received. One reviewer described it as ‘the book about celebrity advocacy’ you can read that review here.

When he was writing Celebrity Advocacy Dan set up this site which provides much of the background material, sources, newspaper articles and background papers for his work.  Before that (and since) Dan worked on environmental issues in East Africa.


He got into this topic when trying to explain why there were so many charismatic conservationists in that part of the world who were all white – what could produce such a thing?


You can read about that work on this site.

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