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Alexandra Cosima Budabin and Lisa Ann Richey

Jan 17, 2022

Batman Saves the Congo

How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development

University of Minnesota Press 2021

purchase at bookshop.org

Are celebrities “disruptors” who revitalize the development field, or are they just charismatic ambassadors for big business? In Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) the authors argue that celebrities play both roles, and that understanding why and how yields insight into the realities of neoliberal development. As elite political participants, celebrities shape development practices through strategic partnerships that are both an innovative way to raise awareness and funding for neglected causes and a troubling trend of unaccountable elite leadership in North-South relations. The authors use actor Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative to illustrate this dynamic, arguing that his charisma and reach helped bring new approaches to bear on the region’s development. Learn more about the book here.  

Lisa Ann Richey (@BrandAid_World) is Professor of Globalization at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark where she works on the politics of transnational helping. She is the author of the books Batman Saves the Congo: Business, Disruption and the Politics of Development with Alexandra Budabin (2021); Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World with Stefano Ponte (2011); Population Politics and Development: From the Policies to the Clinics (2008) and edited Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power (2016) and New Actors and Alliances in Development (2014). She also disseminates her work in popular media like Al Jazeera and The Conversation. Lisa was the founding Vice-President of the Global South Caucus of the International Studies Association (ISA).

Alexandra Cosima Budabin (@ABudabin) is Senior Researcher at the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton (USA). She is a Researcher at the Platform Cultural Heritage Cultural Production of the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bolzano in Italy. Her research on non-state actors in human rights, humanitarianism and development has appeared in Perspective on Politics, New Political Science, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Human Rights, Humanity and The Conversation. Her first book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development with Lisa Ann Richey has been published with University of Minnesota Press. Alexandra’s current research looks at transnational advocacy to confront sexual violence in conflict; digital solidarity for refugees; and the intersection of BLM activism and anti-racist protest in Italy.

Aditya Srinivasan assisted with this episode.

Lamis Abdelaaty is an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at labdelaa@syr.edu or tweet to @LAbdelaaty.

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Lamis Abdelaaty

Dr. Lamis Abdelaaty is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and Senior Research Associate at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. Her book, Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. Email her at labdelaa@syr.edu or tweet to @LAbdelaaty
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