Celebrity and Protest in the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Louise Bethlehem*, Tal Zalmanovich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This special issue proposes to juxtapose accounts of anti-apartheid protest and solidarity efforts with the field of celebrity studies in order to deepen our understanding of both through their conjunction. As our contributors show, opponents of apartheid in South Africa and beyond were cognisant of the importance of cultivating ties with local and global media, as well as with individuals who enjoyed easy access to the media as a consequence of their “celebrity capital” (Olivier Driessens, “Celebrity Capital: Redefining Celebrity using Field Theory,” Theory and Society 42 (2013)). This introduction to the special issue revisits the notion of “networked celebrity” (F. Turner and C. Larson, “Network Celebrity: Entrepreneurship and the New Public Intellectuals,” Public Culture 27, 1 (75) (2015)) in order to set the stage for the case histories that follow. Rather than considering the actions of individual women and men of renown with respect either to their individual “consecration” as celebrities in Pierre Bourdieu's well-known sense, or their capacity to extract individual benefit from it, the emphasis falls on understanding various manifestations of celebrity culture that take their bearings from the collaborative and decentred nature of the global protest against apartheid. The special issue challenges the individualising emphasis of celebrity studies and its predominantly metropolitan orientation, while offering a new set of perspectives on the transnational dimensions of the global anti-apartheid struggle.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Arts
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Critical Arts.


  • Networked celebrity
  • anti-apartheid movements
  • celebrity capital
  • protest
  • solidarity


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