Call for Papers | “Liminal Celebrity and Small Nations” | Special Issue of Celebrity Studies

Guest Editors

  • Professor Barry King, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • Dr Damion Sturm, Leeds Beckett University, UK

fiji-rugby-stars620
Small nation celebrity “We knew it was going to be crazy but not this crazy,” Fiji’s rugby sevens captain Captain Osea Kolinisau told journalists as the country’s gold medal heroes returned home from Rio Sunday with a Bank Holiday having been declared in their honor for the following day.

Research into celebrity tends to focus on larger and more powerful media systems and how the logic of mediated fame has been formed and developed in larger and more powerful nations. Considering that 60% of the world’s nations have populations of less than 10 million and 48% of nations have less than 5 million inhabitants, this issue seeks to explore the role, value and function of celebrity in such localities.

Historically the study of celebrity has followed the paths of organizational development and the cultural templates set by the success of Hollywood and the American media. Although significant differences in the formation of global and national celebrity culture are apparent in Europe (e.g., England, France, Italy) and other large and emerging global markets (e.g., China, India) these developments beg the question of the dynamics of celebrity in smaller nations. More explicitly, within such localities the formation of celebrity systems are subject to tensions between the global and the local. Drawing on the work of Victor Turner and Homi Bhabha, there is a need to explore the condition of inbetweenness and the liminal condition of local celebrity, charged with representing nationhood – itself internally conflicted and contested – and participation in the global celebrity order based on American and Western media systems. It could be argued that the national features of global celebrity, especially Hollywood and the American media, is rendered “invisible” as the universal touchstone of fame. Conversely, for the imagined communities of the periphery, celebrities are required to contend with notions of cultural specificity and traditions of representation and identity. So whilst it is true that the tension between the global and the local is a feature of celebrity culture per se, in small nation contexts this tends to be less a phenomenon between the ordinary and the extra-ordinary than between different versions of collective identity.

What are the specificities, nuances and complexities that underpin the development of celebrity in smaller nations? How do smaller nations respond to the the influence of global Hollywood as it interfaces with local traditions of prestige, performance and cultural identity? Do local “celebrity imaginaries” under pressure to gain the economic advantages of following global formats, essentially mirror and replicate globally powerful forms of celebrity? Alternatively, what are the differences, distinctions and cultural conflicts that emerge in the formation of such “glocal” celebrity systems? Does “liminal” celebrity germinate, operate and mobilise different logics of fame and moral economies of representation? Across a range of celebrity fields – in sport, entertainment and politics – how do localised nationalist discourses come to the fore and how do these play out in the logic of self-commodification and formation of personae? How do the factors of smaller market size and limited economies of scale enact a territorial or geographical compression on systems of value and prestige, geographic distance or isolation from the West structure the discourse of celebrity and the development and maintenance of liminal celebrity cultures?

In order to consider the interaction of the local and global (e.g., economic, political and cultural), as well as possible paradoxes and tensions in the formation of small nation celebrity, we welcome submissions that probe celebrity in any small nations located in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania.

Potential themes addressed may include but are not limited to:

  • The politics of celebrity in small nations
  • The local and global dimensions to celebrity in small nations
  • The role, value and/or significance of celebrity in small nations
  • Celebrity identity politics via traditional (e.g., cultural, national, global, gender, race) and alternative articulations (e.g., abject, affect, agency, glocal, grobal, liquid, subversive)
  • Cultural specificity and different versions of collective identity in small nation celebrity
  • Celebrity in specific fields of fame, such as entertainment (film, television, sport, music), politics and public life
  • Typologies of fame in small nations (e.g., notions of stardom, celebrity, persona, personage)
  • Representational regimes and the burden of nationalistic articulations of celebrities as icons, heroes/heroines, and/or representatives of the nation (e.g., sport, media, politics)
  • Everyday occurrences of small nation celebrity, micro-celebrity and ‘ordinary’ celebrity
  • Celebrity culture, commodification and gift economies
  • Celebrity and Transgender performance traditions (e.g., in South East Asia, the Pacific Rim)
  • Local traditions of performance in theatre, film and television, sport and politics in the formation of celebrity systems
  • Historical treatment and/or contemporary case studies of celebrity
  • The mediatisation and/or commodification of celebrities in small nation media
  • The consumption of celebrity in small nations (i.e., fandom, gossip)
  • The role of new media, social media and technology for celebrity in small nations

Interested authors should send a 250 word proposal and 200-word biography to both barry.king@aut.ac.nz and d.c.sturm@leedsbeckett.ac.uk by October 21, 2016. Acceptance notices will be sent out by December 9 2016. For accepted proposals, completed essays of 6000-8000 words will be due no later than April 7, 2017. Final publication of the special issue is expected early 2018. Only previously unpublished essays will be considered.

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