15 June 2012
Venue: Room 501 (Pat Hanan Room), Arts 2 (Building 207)
Host: John Street, University of Anglia
Early in 2012, the musician Youssou N’Dour announced that he was to run for President of Senegal. The previous year there had been speculation that the actor Matt Damon might be making a bid for high office. Meanwhile, in accounts of the Arab Spring, a role was assigned to musicians (like El General in Tunisia) in inspiring, and even leading, the rebellions. The Occupy movement too attracted its share of celebrity supporters. So, it seems, the instances of celebrity politics continue to proliferate, and with it a growing academic literature. This paper looks at the phenomenon of the celebrity politician, at attempts to explain its rise, analyse its impact and assess its value.
John Street is Professor of Politics in the School of Political, Social and International Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of several influential books, including Rebel Rock: the Politics of Popular Music (1986), Politics and Technology (1992), Politics and Popular Culture (1997), Mass Media, Politics and Democracy (2001/2011), and Music and Politics (2011). With Simon Frith and Will Straw, he is co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock (2001). His articles have been published in the British Journal of Political Science, Political Studies Review, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Parliamentary Affairs, Government and Opposition, Media, Culture and Society, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philsophy, New Political Science, and European Journal of Communication, among other journals.