The engagement of celebrities with the world of diplomacy has been highly contested. From the perspective of traditional state-based diplomats these activities are an unwanted intrusion into the privileges of their ‘club’ world by a cluster without the requisite authority and skill set. From the point of view of a wide number of critics, whether from civil society or from even some of their fellow entertainers, these forays are highly problematic in that it risks capture or at least manipulation by state authorities. Such types of criticism have considerable merit, stretching out to fundamental questions of accountability and legitimacy. Yet a focus only on the problems associated with this set of individuals underplays both the range of actorness developed by celebrities on global issues, and the capacity that at least some of them have developed.
This presentation starts out with a mapping exercise depicting a number of categories of celebrity engagement with shifts over time. It then narrows down the list about who can be taken seriously as players in world politics. Even with all the flaws exhibited in their activities the expanded role of celebrities does showcase the opening up of participation in the global domain. Celebrities are strong competitors for ‘club’ diplomats in the use of networking and public diplomacy. They can in some cases bring attention to neglected issue areas or alternatively be disruptive with a position outside the western mainstream. Some in the top-tier showcase the creative utilization of frontline diplomacy.
About the speaker
Andrew F. Cooper is a Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo where he teaches in the areas of International Organization, Global Governance, Comparative Foreign Policy and International Diplomacy. He holds a DPhil in International Relations from Oxford University. He currently is the Director of The Centre for the Study on Rapid Global Change, University of Waterloo, Canada and an Associate Research Fellow-UNU CRIS as well as an Associate Senior Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany.
Dr. Cooper's research focuses on foreign policy strategies of emerging powers in a multi-polar world, middle and small states, regionalization, global health governance and conventional and non-conventional diplomacy. His work has been profiled via ABC Good Morning America, The Independent, CBC’s Q, Variety Magazine, Times of India, China Daily, and the Washington Diplomat.