The Ideology of Celebrity Humanitarianism

Kapuscinski Development Lecture

with  Ilan Kapoor, Professor of Critical Development Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada

May 12, 2015, 18:00-20:00
C3 – Centre for International Development,
Sensengasse 3, 1090 Vienna

Celebrity charity work is deeply tainted and ideological. Its altruistic pretensions are belied by several accompaniments: its tendency to promote both the celebrity’s brand and the image of the ‘caring’ (Western) nation; its entrenchment in a marketing and promotion machine that helps advance corporate capitalism and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; its support to a ‘postdemocratic’ liberal political system that is outwardly democratic and populist, yet, for all intents and purposes, conducted by unaccountable elites; and its use and abuse of the ‘Third World’, making Africa, in particular, a background for First World hero-worship and a dumping ground for humanitarian ideals and fantasies.

But what about our own complicity in this ideological work? As audience members and fans, or indeed even as detractors or critics, we too easily carry on our lives, consoled that someone is doing the charity work for us, just as long as we don’t have to.

Panel Discussion

  • Max Santner (Red Cross Austria)
  • Monica Culen (Austrian Fundraising Association, RED NOSES International)
  • Ilan Kapoor (York University)
  • Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal (Federal Ministry for Europe,Integration and Foreign Affairs)


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