Celebrity: A Key Concept for Understanding the Power of "Helping"

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In a handbook of critical perspectives on philanthropy and humanitarianism, one might expect an entry on celebrity to contain a worst-case scenario of what can go wrong when professional performers play the part of “helper.” This chapter argues that celebrity humanitarianism is an important area for understanding the politics of North/South relations. It reviews the organizational forms that have taken shape around celebrity humanitarianism, its representations of “helping,” and the politics it engenders. Celebrity studies scholarship recognizes that the topic of study, the celebrity, is a person and a thing, subject and object, entrepreneur, and commodity—all at once. Some definitions of celebrity focus on the amount of public interest in them. Celebrity humanitarianism is part of an evolving history of humanitarianism. International relations scholars use “humanitarianism” with a specific reference to the 1864 Geneva Convention’s recognition in international law of humanitarian principles to govern the moral practice of war.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Critical Philanthropy and Humanitarianism
EditorsKatharyne Mitchell, Polly Pallister-Wilkins
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9780367741044, 9780367755034
ISBN (Electronic)9781003162711
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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