Round Table: Batman Saves the Congo – How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development

This roundtable discusses Alexandra Budabin and Lisa Richey’s book on the attention celebrities bring to humanitarianism and how this spotlights prevailing trends and debates in the field. Their book asks can celebrities be “disrupters,” promoting strategic partnerships to bring new ideas and funding to revitalize development? Or are celebrities just charismatic ambassadors for big business? Examining the role of the rich and famous in development and humanitarianism, Budabin and Richey argue that celebrities do both, and that understanding why and how yields insight into the realities of neoliberal development. The book provides a study of entertainer Ben Affleck, known for his superhero performance as Batman, who in 2010 launched the Eastern Congo Initiative to bring a new approach to the region’s development and security concerns. Our roundtable brings together scholars to discuss the implications of the continued entry of new actors and alliances for humanitarianism . The book reveals worrying trends around special access, diversified funding, and significant support of elites within political, philanthropic, development, and humanitarian circuits that will be of interest to practitioners and scholars.

Chair: Tanja Müller, University of Manchester, (in person)
Discussant: Lisa Ann Richey, CBS, (in person)
Discussant: Alexandra Budabin, Free University of Bolzano, (online)
Speaker: Miriam Bradley, IBEI (in person)
Speaker: Juliano Fiori, University of Manchester (online)
Speaker: Roisin Read, University of Manchester (in person)
Speaker: Samentha Goethals (in person)
Speaker: Polly Pallister-Wilkins, University of Amsterdam (in person)


Alexandra Budabin

Date and Time

Can be found in the Conference Programme