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Abstract Deadline: 15 April 2020 | Full Paper Deadline: 1 August 2020

Editorial Information

Guest Editors:
Mehdi Semati, Northern Illinois University
Kate Zambon, University of New Hampshire


Popular Communication

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The Global Politics of Celebrity

The recent proliferation of research on celebrity across a range of disciplines and fields of inquiry demonstrates a scholarly consensus regarding its increasing importance. Academic conferences, a journal dedicated to Celebrity Studies, and a spate of books on the topic reflect this consensus in communication, media and cultural studies. Celebrity provides a key to understanding the present conjuncture, the contemporary cultural moment, and for tracing its historical development. To the extent that it is intertwined with the dominant cultural, political, and economic values of the day, celebrity is poised to reveal the contours of that conjuncture. Celebrity tells us about a culture’s notions of privacy, publicness, and intimacy. Celebrity is said to “re-style,” “personalize,” and even democratize politics. It has long been involved in diplomacy, humanitarianism, and the exercise of and “soft” power. Celebrity is a form of cultural power and a means of rationalizing and obscuring the contradictions of global capitalism. In the age of networked publics, celebrity is transnational and its circulation is illustrative of networks of affect and passion, mobilization and demobilization. The resurgence of contemporary populism cannot exist outside the space of celebrity. Alongside celebrity politicians speaking “directly to the people,” social media platforms elevate celebrity provocateurs who generate and monetize networks of passion, outrage and hate. At the same time, these tools and platforms also enable new kinds of celebrities representing traditionally disempowered populations, including young people, women, and members of minoritized groups. Transnational and global celebrity is a crucial site where discourses on race, gender, class, and national identity are negotiated, dramatized, and naturalized.

However, transnational and global theories and contexts have been largely neglected in celebrity studies, which, with the notable exception of studies in development and humanitarianism, tend to focus on Anglophone publics within the Global North. Studying celebrity from a critical transnational perspective allows us to deploy the insights of this literature while building its theoretical reach, scope and utility. The goal is not only to expand representation but also to generate stronger theory. Critical transnational approaches include neglected places and populations, but also reflect the reality that American and other major culture industries are and have always been global. In this context, studying global celebrity provides the opportunity to expand the literature and the social theory it could generate, contributing to comparative studies in culture, media and the notion of the popular. If “the popular” was once defined in relationship to its constitutive outside, “the culture of the power-bloc,” studying global celebrity (e.g., global popular, national-popular) allows us to reengage the notion of the popular on new theoretical terrain.

This special issue invites scholars from across various disciplines and fields of inquiry to address these issues as a conversation and an occasion to reassess celebrity, the literature, and the conceptual tools we have used to explain it. To that end, the following list of topics and foci are an invitation to do so.

Topics of interest include:

  • Origins of fame and celebrity
  • Celebrity and social theory
  • Celebrity and critical theory
  • The imperative of celebrity studies
  • Disciplining celebrity and interdisciplinarity
  • Affect, emotion, and the power of celebrity
  • Celebrity and social (racial, gendered, sexual) normativity
  • Celebrity and racial formation
  • Religious celebrity
  • Religion and celebrity
  • The gendered dynamics of celebrity
  • Technological conditions of celebrity
  • Truth, lies, and technologies of exposure
  • Celebrity algorithms and data
  • Celebrity, notoriety, and infamy
  • Online celebrity in global hate networks
  • Celebrity, conspiracy, and (mis)information
  • Celebrity and (pseudo-)science
  • Celebrity, sustainability, and climate change
  • Celebrity and the politics of journalistic authority
  • Celebrity as/and authority
  • Celebrity in national contexts
  • Celebrity and (nation) branding
  • Celebrity and citizenship


  • Geopolitics of celebrity
  • Celebrity and the rise of global populism
  • Celebrity and cultural imperialism
  • Celebrity and empire
  • Celebrity diplomacy and humanitarianism
  • Celebrity activism and social advocacy
  • Celebrity and social justice
  • Celebrity as a tool of resistance
  • Celebrity and (in)visibility
  • The globalized political economy of celebrity
  • The industrial production of fame and celebrity
  • Micro-celebrity, influence(ers), and aspirational labor
  • New media personality cults
  • New media and the evolution of parasocial interaction
  • Parasocial relationships in the internet age
  • Celebrity, fandom, and participatory culture
  • Celebrity and the attention economy
  • Commodification and consumption
  • Celebrity, style, persona and politics
  • Public/private spheres, self and celebrity
  • Identity, celebrity and selfhood
  • Popular culture, everyday life, and celebrity
  • Celebrity, Hollywood and its Others
  • Celebrity athletes and the symbolic power of sports

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Submission Instructions

Contributors are expected to submit, by April 15, 2020, a proposal of 300-500 words explaining the topic of their article, the theoretical framework and the outline of their final arguments. Authors will be notified shortly after about the next steps. The deadline for the full manuscript (5500-6500 words in length) is August 1, 2020. Authors are expected to submit original research and previously unpublished work. The article must be submitted as a Microsoft Word document, and follow APA Formatting and Style Guide. The anticipated date of publication of the issue is March 2021. Shortly after the publication of the journal issue, the editors intend to print the issue as an edited volume with Taylor & Francis.

All inquiries should be sent to guest editors: Mehdi Semati ([email protected]) or Kate Zambon ([email protected]).

Instructions for Authors