CFP: ”Celebrity Colonialism”

“Celebrity Colonialism: Fame, Representation, and Power in Colonial and Post-Colonial Cultures”
Call for Submissions to an Edited Collection of Academic Papers

Colonialism and postcolonialism produce their fair share of celebrities, yet the meanings, forms, and functions of celebrities within colonial and post-colonial cultures have received little scholarly attention.

Invitations are extended to scholars who wish to contribute to a collection of papers that explores the various and ambivalent relationships between the cultures of celebrity and (post)colonialism. In particular papers are sought that examine

* Celebrities and the Colonial Moment: how have radio, art, film, literary, exploration, and other celebrities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries been implicated in colonial and anti-colonial processes?

* Celebrities and the Contemporary Politics of Benevolence: from Hollywood celebrities adopting children from developing nations, to music superstars advocating global economic reforms, how do celebrities influence contemporary public understanding of the line between benevolence and exploitation? How is celebrity questioned, critiqued, and resisted in alternative media?

* Celebrities and Subalternity: from UK’s Celebrity Big Brother to Bollywood and Indigenous Australian cinema actors, how do celebrities complicate the politics of race and class, and how do indigenous celebrities function as cultural intermediaries for the negotiation of contemporary political and economic inequalities? Are there such things as ‘subaltern celebrities,’ and if so, how do they function within post-colonizing cultures to shape cultural memory and intervene in process such as the ‘Reconciliation’ movements of the 1990s?

In May 2006 journalist Brendan O’Neill coined the term ‘celebrity colonialism’ while reporting on the drama attending the Namibian birth of the child of Hollywood celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The term was meant to describe the power celebrities possess to influence public and private institutions within colonial and post-colonial cultures. Colonial cultures have always produced celebrities, yet there has been little examination of them through the prism of their celebrity.

In April this year the University of Queensland Postcolonial Research Group hosted a two-day symposium to explore the various and ambivalent relationships between the cultures of celebrity and colonialism. The present project will showcase a number of the papers from that conference while seeking contributions from other scholars working in this field.

The collection will seek to answer the questions: How do celebrities function within colonial and post-colonial cultures? In what way have various famous figures made their name through their celebration of or antagonism towards colonial and neo-colonial imperialism? How does the popular appeal of celebrity inflect the way (post-) colonial matters can be brought before and received by the public?

Interested contributors should email a 250 word proposal to Dr Robert Clarke (rgclarke@uq.edu.au), along with a biographical note, by no later than Friday 27 July 2007. Final submission of papers would be required by no later than Friday 27 June 2008.

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