Rationale

The prevalence of celebrity advocacy, particularly in international development, poses important questions about the nature of advocacy, citizenship and democracy in our societies. Over the last 30 years, and accelerating more recently, changes in the political economy of different sectors of the celebrity industry, humanitarianism, development aid and charitable causes more generally, have created new markets for the cultural industries, new audiences for celebrity and celebrity advocates, and new forms of NGO, state and corporate action. These signal changes to deeper social, political and economic relationships which require exploration. This meeting will bring together researchers, observers and practitioners in an interdisciplinary  gathering which will be data-rich as well as theoretically sophisticated. Questions it will address include:

–  What is the history and variety of celebrity advocacy?
–  How does celebrity advocacy alter the political economy of the cultural industries, and vice versa?
–  How does celebrity advocacy intersect with corporate social responsibility and cause-related marketing?
–  How do different citizens and consumers respond to celebrity advocacy?
–  What is the role of affect in celebrity advocacy?
–  To what extent do celebrity interventions and ways of operating set the terms of public debates?
–  How is celebrity advocacy done – and what role does the celebrity advocate play in it?

–  How does celebrity advocacy alter the political economy of development?
–  How does celebrity advocacy affect the politics of development?
–  What are the implications of celebrity advocacy for protest and social change?
–  What are the implications of celebrity advocacy for things like cosmopolitanism, development awareness and development education?
–  How does celebrity function in the day-to-day practices of development bureaucracies and sustainable capitalism?

–  What technological, social, economic and political developments have accompanied and facilitated the flourishing of celebrity?
–  Where is the presence and growth of celebrity stymied and discouraged (and how and why)?
–  How are we to understand and theorise celebrity advocacy within the context of broader changes to the nature of capitalism and democracy?