Madonna’s Malawi: celebritization and the NGO economy

  • Mubanda Rasmussen, Louise (Projektdeltager)

Projekter: ProjektForskning



Postdoc. project funded by the Danish Research Council for the Social Sciences (FSE).
This project investigates the local experience of celebritized development, through an ethnographic case study of Madonna’s Raising Malawi foundation.
Since 2006, the Raising Malawi foundation has supported orphanages and community-based organisations that help orphans and vulnerable children, ventured into controversial school construction projects and supported local paediatric surgeons.
Because celebrities are beginning to be taken seriously as actors in international politics, environmental conservation and climate change, fair trade etc., the implications of ‘celebritization’ is urgent to explore. However, contemporary scholarship on celebrity engagement with international development has primarily focused on how this engagement works to mobilize Northern publics. Questions about the implications of celebritized development in the Global South remains acutely under researched. This research project attempts to fill this gap by focusing on how celebritization impacts upon the local practice of development, as well as how it more broadly interacts with the local politics of development.
The project thereby assumes that the communication practices that characterize celebritized development affects the way that development project can be envisioned and are practiced on the ground. Moreover, it seeks to place the experience of increased, personified media exposure of specific projects with the ambiguous experiences of development in Malawi in the past decades.
Since Malawi’s democratic transition in the mid-1990s, the country has experienced a massive growth of NGOs. Yet, neither democratization nor the NGO growth has managed to deliver on their promises of greater political equality and better living conditions. There is widespread suspicion towards the motivations of foreign development actors, and a perception of international and local NGOs lacking in transparency and accountability as much as the government.
On the basis of six months ethnographic research with Raising Malawi partner organisations, government ministries and other NGOs that work with orphans and vulnerable children, this project examines how the connection to a controversial celebrity shapes local perceptions of and interactions with Raising Malawi. Thereby the project sheds light on how celebritization may impact upon the local politics of development in the Global South.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/06/201120/05/2016


  • 2 Paper
  • 1 Bidrag til bog/antologi
  • 1 Tidsskriftartikel

In the Name of Sustainability: Contradictory Effects of NGO-driven Development in Malawi

Rasmussen, L. M., 2017, I : European Journal of Development Research. 29, 2, s. 312–327

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Madonna in Malawi: Celebritized Interventions and Local Politics of Development in the South

Rasmussen, L. M., sep. 2015, Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power. Richey, L. A. (red.). London: Routledge, s. 48-69

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review

Madonna in Malawi: How do celebritized development interact with local politics of development in the South?

Mubanda Rasmussen, L., 14 mar. 2014. 19 s.

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning

The Fiction of Sustainability: Funding AIDS Impact Mitigation through Civil Society in Malawi

Mubanda Rasmussen, L., 27 jun. 2013. 21 s.

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning

Åben adgang


  • 4 Organisation og deltagelse i konference
  • 4 Deltagelse i workshop, seminar og kursus

Humanitarianism Beyond the State

Louise Mubanda Rasmussen (Deltager)

9 okt. 201411 okt. 2014

Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangering af en begivenhedDeltagelse i workshop, seminar og kursus

ISA's 55th Annual Convention

Louise Mubanda Rasmussen (Deltager)

26 mar. 201429 mar. 2014

Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangering af en begivenhedOrganisation og deltagelse i konference

International Symposium on Sustainability and the Celebrity-Business-Development Nexus

Louise Mubanda Rasmussen (Arrangør)

8 maj 20149 maj 2014

Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangering af en begivenhedOrganisation og deltagelse i konference


Celebrities as New Development Actors

Louise Mubanda Rasmussen (Deltager)

18 sep. 2013

Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangering af en begivenhedDeltagelse i workshop, seminar og kursus


Danmarks Indsamling svigter oplysningen

Louise Mubanda Rasmussen & Lene Bull Christiansen


1 element af Mediedækning