Ilan Kapoor

Ideology of celebrity humanitarianism

Celebrity charity work is deeply tainted and ideological. Its altruistic pretensions are belied by several accompaniments: its tendency to promote both the celebrity’s brand and the image of the ‘caring’ (Western) nation; its entrenchment in a marketing and promotion machine that helps advance corporate capitalism and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; its support to a ‘post-democratic’ liberal political system that is outwardly democratic and populist, yet, for all intents and purposes, conducted by unaccountable elites; and its use and abuse of the 'Third World’, making Africa, in particular, a background for First World hero-worship and a dumping ground for humanitarian ideals and fantasies. But what about our own complicity in this ideological work? As audience members and fans, or indeed even as detractors or critics, we too easily carry on our lives, consoled that someone is doing the charity work for us, just as long as we don’t have to.

Tuesday 12.05.2015


When: 12th May 2015 at 6:00pm CET / 4:00pm GMT (check time around the world).

Where: C3 – Centre for International Development, Sensengasse 3, 1090 Vienna

You can join the lecture by:

  • coming to the event in Vienna (registration: or Phone: +43/1/317 40 10-100)
  • following livestreaming from the event at
  • asking your questions to Ilan Kapoor via Twitter using #KAPTalks hashtag


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Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.
Ilan Kapoor

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