Afropolitanism, Celebrity Politics, and Iconic Imaginations of North–South Relations

Lisa Ann Richey, Lene Bull Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

'Afropolitanism' has become a disputed term referring to diverse engagements by Africans who are typically members of the cultural elite and participate in diaspora politics, online activism, fashion and literature debates. Simultaneously, in discussions of development aid, celebrity has become a way of mediating between proximity and distance in imagining relationships between South and North. Afropolitanism can be usefully considered as an Africa-specific, post-colonial form of cosmopolitanism that spans discourses of elite pan-African culture to theories of elite global aid culture. We argue that there are essential connections between the rise of Afropolitanism and the celebritization of North-South relations. In this realm, 'Afropolitanism' is an idea combining cosmopolitanism's notions of kindness to strangers in a world where the 'kindness' is aid and the 'strangers' are Africans. We analyse two archetypical Afropolitan performances by Danish aid celebrities to argue that their representations of Africa's external relations are theoretically more interesting, and politically more dangerous, than is currently understood. In doing so, we expand the debates around Afropolitanism and celebritization from the realm of cultural politics to one of International Relations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrican Affairs
Volume117
Issue number467
Pages (from-to)238-260
Number of pages23
ISSN0001-9909
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

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abstract = "'Afropolitanism' has become a disputed term referring to diverse engagements by Africans who are typically members of the cultural elite and participate in diaspora politics, online activism, fashion and literature debates. Simultaneously, in discussions of development aid, celebrity has become a way of mediating between proximity and distance in imagining relationships between South and North. Afropolitanism can be usefully considered as an Africa-specific, post-colonial form of cosmopolitanism that spans discourses of elite pan-African culture to theories of elite global aid culture. We argue that there are essential connections between the rise of Afropolitanism and the celebritization of North-South relations. In this realm, 'Afropolitanism' is an idea combining cosmopolitanism's notions of kindness to strangers in a world where the 'kindness' is aid and the 'strangers' are Africans. We analyse two archetypical Afropolitan performances by Danish aid celebrities to argue that their representations of Africa's external relations are theoretically more interesting, and politically more dangerous, than is currently understood. In doing so, we expand the debates around Afropolitanism and celebritization from the realm of cultural politics to one of International Relations.",
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Afropolitanism, Celebrity Politics, and Iconic Imaginations of North–South Relations. / Richey, Lisa Ann; Bull Christiansen, Lene.

In: African Affairs, Vol. 117, No. 467, 04.2018, p. 238-260.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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