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Star/poverty space: the making of the ‘development celebrity’

Goodman, M. K. and Barnes, C. (2011) Star/poverty space: the making of the ‘development celebrity’. Celebrity Studies, 2 (1). pp. 69-85. ISSN 1939-2400 (special issue Celebrity and the Transnational)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/19392397.2011.544164


What is it that gives celebrities the voice and authority to do and say the things they do in the realm of development politics? Asked another way, how is celebrity practised and, simultaneously, how does this praxis make celebrity, personas, politics and, indeed, celebrities themselves? In this article, we explore this ‘celebrity praxis’ through the lens of the creation of the contemporary ‘development celebrity’ in those stars working for development writ large in the so-called Third World. Drawing on work in science studies, material cultures and the growing geo-socio-anthropologies of things, the key to understanding the material practices embedded in and creating development celebrity networks is the multiple and complex circulations of the everyday and bespectacled artefacts of celebrity. Conceptualised as the ‘celebrity–consumption–compassion complex’, the performances of development celebrities are as much about everyday events, materials, technologies, emotions and consumer acts as they are about the mediated and liquidised constructions of the stars who now ‘market’ development.Moreover, this complex is constructed by and constructs what we are calling ‘star/poverty space’ that works to facilitate the ‘expertise’ and ‘authenticity’ and, thus, elevated voice and authority, of development celebrities through poverty tours, photoshoots, textual and visual diaries, websites and tweets. In short, the creation of star/poverty space is performed through a kind of ‘materiality of authenticity’ that is at the centre of the networks of development celebrity. The article concludes with several brief observations about the politics, possibilities and problematics of development celebrities and the star/poverty spaces that they create.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:35133

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