Peng Liyuan’s humanitarianism: morality, politics and eyeing the present and past

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Celebrity in China is booming, yet the patterns, meanings and monitoring of Chinese celebrity and cause adoption both share and differ from western forms, history and phenomenon. Using a case study of Peng Liyuan, China’s most recent first lady, folk singer and military entertainer, this article addresses some of the key moral and political functions that Peng is helping both reinforce and remake. I show how history and China’s current modernisation narratives shape understandings of and possibilities for celebrities in public and political life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)414-429
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

There were only minor changes to the Preprint and only minor grammar issues were addressed in the final go-over by the copy editor.


  • Celebrity politics
  • China
  • Peng Liyuan
  • public health
  • advocacy

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