Fri, Oct 01



Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development

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Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development

Time & Location

Oct 01, 2021, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Frederiksberg, Dalgas Have 15, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

About the Event

Friday, 1 October 2021, from 13:30-15:30 DH.2.Ø.71 (the 2nd floor, east wing of the building) Dalgas Have 15, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg Co-hosted by the Centre for Business and Development Studies (CBDS), Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC) at Copenhagen Business School, and Commodifying Compassion (CoCo) Lisa Ann Richey, Professor of Globalization at CBS, and Alexandra Cosima Budabin, Senior Researcher in the Human Rights Center of the University of Dayton, will launch their latest book Batman Saves the Congo. Scholars from collaborating universities— the University of Copenhagen, Roskilde University, University of Dar es Salaam, University of Dayton—as well as the MSC home team + leader will be joining this event.

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About the book:

Can a celebrity be a “disrupter,” promoting strategic partnerships to bring new ideas and funding to revitalize the development field—or are celebrities just charismatic ambassadors for big business? Examining the role of the rich and famous in development and humanitarianism, Batman Saves the Congo argues that celebrities do both, and that understanding why and how yields insight into the realities of neoliberal development. In 2010, entertainer Ben Affleck, known for his superhero performance as Batman, launched the Eastern Congo Initiative to bring a new approach to the region’s development. This case study is at the center of Batman Saves the Congo. Affleck’s organization operates with special access, diversified funding, and significant support of elites within political, philanthropy, development, and humanitarianism circuits. This sets it apart from other development organizations. With his convening power, Affleck has built partnerships with those inside and outside development, staking bipartisan political ground that is neither charity nor aid, but “good business.” Such visible and recognizable celebrity humanitarians are occupying the public domain yet not engaging meaningfully with any public, argues Batman Saves the Congo. They are an unruly bunch of new players in development that amplify business solutions.

About the authors:

Lisa Ann Richey

Lisa Ann Richey is American with a US education, but has worked for nearly two decades in Denmark. Trained as a political scientist from a top 10 American political science department, Lisa has over 20 years of work on values and international politics of humanitarianism. Her research draws on the disciplines of political science, anthropology, geography, social theory and media studies. From global population policy to Ben Affleck’s work in Congo, Lisa has examined the relationships between global values and local practices of ‘humanitarianism’ in five research programs. She has spent a total of 51 months doing fieldwork in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Democratic Republic of Congo), and has also been involved in research capacity building partnerships.

Lisa has been a Visiting Professor at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University in the US (2017-18) and at the Department of Sociology and International Relations at the University of Trento in Italy (2014).

Alexandra Cosima Budabin

Alexandra is a Senior Researcher in the Human Rights Center of the University of Dayton and Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Platform Cultural Heritage Cultural Production at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bolzano. She is a contract professor in the Programme in Media, Communication, and Culture at the Free University of Bolzano.

Alexandra has been involved in and across the fields of education, advocacy, human rights, humanitarianism, and conflict for two decades. She has worked for the Museum of Jewish Heritage--A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Girls Learn International, NOW on PBS, and with the UN Working Group on Girls. Her research centers on the everyday politics of human rights, development, and humanitarianism specifically concerning the role and leadership of transnational actors such as diasporas, celebrities, NGOs, and business. She has a PhD in Politics from the New School for Social Research. She recruits from the disciplines of political science, sociology, communications, and development studies. Her research has appeared in World Development, Perspective on Politics, New Political Science, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Human Rights, and Humanity.

Preliminary programme: 13:30-13:40 Welcoming Comments and introduction of speakers: Dorte Salskov-Iversen (Head of the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School)

13:40-14:00 Presentation of Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development: Lisa Ann Richey and Alexandra Cosima Budabin 14:00-14:10 Demystifying Batman as a Business Celebrity: Eric Guthey (Associate Professor at the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School)

14:10-14:20 Celebrities, Philanthropists and other Elite Politics in Africa: Consolata Sulley (Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Dar es Salaam)

14:20-14:40 Governmentality, Extraversion and Congo’s Relationship with the World: Kasper Hoffmann (Postdoc at the Section for Global Development at the University of Copenhagen) 14:40-14:50 Celebrity Love for Africans: From Linse Kessler to Ben Affleck: Lene Bull Christiansen (Associate Professor at the Department for Communication and Arts at the Roskilde University)

14:50-15:00 Responses from the authors

15:00-15:30 Open Discussion

15:30- Reception

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