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- The Invisible Violence of Celebrity Humanitarianism: Soft Images and Hard Words in the Making and Unmaking of Africa by Yrjölä, Riina
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- The Takeoff after Lisbon: The Practical and Theoretical Implications of Differentiated Integration in the EU by Koller, Boglárka
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- Political Science: Witchcraft or Craftsmanship? Standards for Good Research by Nørgaard, Asbjørn S.
The Invisible Violence of Celebrity Humanitarianism: Soft Images and Hard Words in the Making and Unmaking of Africa
1University of Jyväskylä, Finland, email@example.com
Citation Information: World Political Science Review. Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages –, ISSN (Online) 1935-6226, DOI: 10.2202/1935-6226.1072, November 2009
- Published Online:
Through their actions to eliminate extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa, Irish musicians Robert (Bob) Geldof and Bono (Paul David Hewson) today form a visible and celebrated centre in the world of humanitarianism as political activists,' celebrity diplomats,' global Samaritans,' men who, to quote former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, rock the establishment' (TIME 13.11.2006). Their contemporary calls to make poverty history' in Africa are so widely repeated and commonsensical that questions about the exceptionality of this humanitarian action itself rarely arise. In fact, despite the increasing visibility of celebrity humanitarianism, no research on their representations and truth-claims has been done among political scientists.By broadening the concept of the political to include the low' politics of celebrities, specifically their discourses, practices, ideals and world constructions, the aim of this article is to critically examine how Bob Geldof and Bono the two most visible and celebrated Western spokespersons acting on behalf of Africa constitute Africa' in their representations not only as a place, but also as serving purpose in the world system.The article argues that, while Geldof and Bono do push for economic changes for Africa, the spatio-temporality of their imaginaries and interpretations on Africa elaborate a colonial imaginary by (re)producing Africa as a specifically Western project and calling. By repeating and circulating the vocabulary of humanitarianism as a moral duty in combination with the engagement in power politics, these discourses not only serve a purpose in the maintenance of hegemonic Western activity in Africa, but are also instrumental in constructing consensus for the existing world order, where the global South is, and remains, in a subordinate position to the West.