Afropolitanism, celebrity politics, and iconic imaginations of North–South relations

Lisa Ann Richey, Lene Bull Christiansen

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In discussions of African cultural politics, a new label of ‘Afropolitan’ refers to diverse engagements by Africans who are typically members of the cultural elite, and participate in diaspora politics, online activism, fashion and literature debates. Simultaneously, in discussions of development aid, celebrity has become a way of mediating between proximity and distance in imagining relationships between South and North. Afropolitanism can be usefully considered as an Africa-specific, post-colonial form of cosmopolitanism that spans discourses of elite pan-African culture to theories of elite global aid culture. We argue that there are essential connections between the rise of Afropolitanism and the celebritization of North-South relations. In this realm, “Afropolitanism” is an idea combining cosmopolitanism’s notions of kindness to strangers in a world where the ‘kindness’ is aid and the ‘strangers’ are Africans. We analyse two archetypical Afropolitan performances by Danish aid celebrities to argue that their representations of Africa’s external relations are theoretically more interesting, and politically more dangerous, than is currently understood. In doing so, we expand the debates around Afropolitanism and celebritization from the realm of cultural politics to one of International Relations.
TidsskriftAfrican Affairs
Udgave nummer464
Sider (fra-til)238-260
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 1 apr. 2018

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