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Global Development Institute Podcast: Lisa Ann Richey in conversation with Tanja Müller

10 May, 2023

Listen to the new podcast episode by the Global Development Institute at University of Manchester featuring Tanja Müller in conversation with Lisa Ann Richey.

They discuss what led Lisa to explore celebrity humanitarinism and partnerships, which are at the center of her latest book Batman Saves The Congo, co-authored with Alexandra Cosima Budabin.


Available here:


Book review: Batman Saves the Congo | Political Science Quarterly

16 March, 2023

A new book review of by Kevin C.Dunn on Batman Saves the Congo is out on Political Science Quarterly.

"On one hand, the authors offer damning characterizations of Affleck’s ECI and other celebrity strategic partnerships with claims such as, “they are an unruly bunch of new actors and alliances in development who amplify business solutions by amassing political and financial capital for their partnerships”

(p. xxviii). Yet, they also repeatedly assert that Affleck and his ilk’s approach does have potential, despite its pitfalls. That contradiction is largely explained by recognizing just how broken the politics of development are, something Batman Saves the Congo does an excellent job of


Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development by Alexandra Cosima Budabin and Lisa Ann Richey

Dunn, Kevin C.

Political Science Quarterly

Access the review here

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Book review: Batman Saves the Congo | Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

1 December, 2022

This article brings together a discussion on Batman Saves the Congo, uniting the contributions from Miriam Bradley (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI); Róisín Read (University of Manchester); Polly Pallister-Wilkins (University of Amsterdam); Samentha Goethals (SKEMA Business School) and Joel R. Pruce (University of Dayton)

The contributions here come from a series of roundtables organised in 2021, including one at the 6th World Conference on Humanitarian Studies of the International Humanitarian Studies Association in Paris that discussed the findings and insights of the book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2021). A recording of the roundtable can be found here.

Budabin, A. C., & Richey, L. A. (2022). Book Review Forum, Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, 4(2), 40-48. Retrieved Dec 15, 2022, from

You can also access the review here

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Book review: Batman Saves the Congo | Canadian Journal of African Studies

11 November, 2022

Find the book review of Batman Saves the Congo by Mark Harvey from the University of Saint Mary

Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Harvey, Mark

Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines (2022)

Access the review here

Book review: Batman Saves the Congo | Potentia: Journal of International Affairs

31 October, 2022

Find the book review of Batman Saves the Congo by Barbra Chimhandamba from the University of Ottawa

Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Chimhandamba, Barbra

Potentia: Journal of International Affairs 13 (2022)

Access the review here

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12 August, 2022

Find the book review of Batman Saves the Congo by Trina Hamilton from the University of Buffalo

Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Hamilton, Trina

Economic Geography 0(0):1 –3 (2022)

Access the review here

8 August, 2022

With fantastic contributions from Ilan Kapoor, Laura Seay, Ami V. Shah, Andrew F. Cooper, Catia Cecilia Confortini and Annika Bergman Rosamond, this piece brings together a set of reflections on Batman Saves the Congo from a panel from the International Studies Association in 2022, around the book Batman Saves the Congo. 

5 August, 2022


Reviewing three new books that "set the record straight" on the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Washington Post, Laura Seay describes Batman Saves the Congo as "thoroughly researched and often laugh-out-loud funny". She finds the book to be an important addition to critical literature on the humanitarian industry and an essential look into celebrity humanitarianism - the growing and frequently under-examined segment of the aid industry. 

You can read the full piece here.

Batman Saves the Congo: Interview with the Authors | The Central and East Africa Coordination of Amnesty International Italy

2 July, 2022

Together with Alex and Lisa, Simona Bianchi and Jonathan Mastellari from the Central and East Africa Coordination in Amnesty International Italy, explored the role that celebrities play within today's neoliberal aid industry. In addition they aimed to understand where the book originated, the topic of how the role of celebrities has impacted and still impacts (not always positively) the processes of fundraising, development and empowerment of the communities and geographic areas involved in the projects to which the resources are allocated.

The interview was conducted by by the Central and East Africa Coordination - Amnesty International Italy by Simona Bianchi and Jonathan Mastellari and can also be found here.

Book review: Batman Saves the Congo | African Studies Quarterly

2 June, 2022

Find the book review by Olajide Damilare Daniel from The Redeemed Christian Bible College in Nigeria, in the African Studies Quarterly on Batman Saves the Congo. 

Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Daniel, Olajide Damilare. 
African Studies Quarterly; Gainesville Vol. 21, Iss. 1,  (May 2022): 68-69.

Access the review here.

Podcast: Batman Saves the Congo | New Books in Political Science

17 January, 2022

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In this great interview with the New Book Network and Lamis Abdelaaty Lisa tells the story of Batman Saves the Congo. She dives into how the idea for the book came to be, their findings, methodology and implications of their work - and how the study of Batman and ECI tells us more about the humanitarian world today. 

Listen to the full podcast interview here.

14 October 2021

Lisa together with Labour Rights Activist and CEO of Remake Ayesha Barenblat and Human Rights Activist Kumi Naidoo, joins a conversation on The Stream in Al Jazeera on celebrity activism and humanitarianism. Pointing out the challenges that social movements face in garnering support and gaining publicity in today's media climate and the industry of celebrity humanitarianism, the speakers ponder on the crucial balance and context in which celebrity humanitarianism can be beneficial, or even necessary. However, recognizing the increasing emergence of celebrity activism as a business strategy, they point out the dangers in the commodification of compassion. Using the specific cases of e.g. pinkwashing and Ben Affleck's involvement, the discussants share their expertise and perspectives on current trends of commercialization of social justice activism and ask the necessary question: Who is it really helping?

9 September 2021


After having faced strong criticism, Global Citizen’s new reality TV series “The Activist”, has issued public apologies and announced its change in format. In their article for the Conversation, Alex and Lisa touched on this recent backlash, explaining that celebrity activism is nothing new, and has been acting as a significant disruptor in the field of humanitarianism for years. Indeed, they point out that celebrity activism often ends up supporting the celebrities and brands more than the actual cause: “Even as a canceled TV show, “The Activist,” is destined to spotlight the unaccountable power stars possess, far more than the causes than it’s supposed to be about.”

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9 September 2021

Read the book review of Batman Saves the Congo by David Luhrssen at the Shepherd Express here.


30 July 2021

In her article for the Südtiroler Wirtschaftszeitung, Alex sheds light on the advantages and disadvantages of celebrity engagement in human rights advocacy. 

You can access the full article here. 

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Interview With Alexandra Budabin on Celebrity Human Rights Advocacy

30 July 2021

To mark the publication of Batman Saves the Congo, HRC Postdoc Paul Morrow sat down with Alex to learn more about her work and its application to Human Rights Center’s work on the social practice of human rights at the University of Dayton.

You can read the interview here.

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A conversation with Amal Fadlalla, Ep.121 : Ufahamu Africa

3 July 2021

In this podcast episode of Ufahamu Africa with Amal Fadlalla, Amal dicusses her new book Branding Humanity: Competing Narratives of Rights, Violence, and Global Citizenship, more specifically the Save Darfur movement. She also touches on the growing role of celebrity humanitarianism on the continent, in branding and legitimizing humanitarian campaigns, and recommends Batman Saves the Congo as her current reading, 

Listen to the episode here. 

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29 May 2019

In an interview with AidEx, Lisa shared her perspectives on the issue of commodifying compassion and the role of celebrities in advocating for good causes. She also reflected on the question of how we as consumers and citizens can think critically about the promises of Brand Aid and "win-for-all" products or services and how we can do better. 

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Figure 2.2 Charlize Theron and Dr. Mukwe

UN photo by Marie Frechon.

18 March 2019

Shout Out UK interviewed Lisa Ann Richey and Dan Brockington on the role that celebrities play in humanitarian aid and development, focusing on Red Nose Day, a special annual event organized by Comic Relief. 

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Image by UNHCR by O.Laban-Mattei. From Humanitarian News Research Network Blog

The Problems with Celebrity HumanitariansHumanitarian News Research Network Blog

10 July 2018

In this blog post by Caroline Are, Alexandra and Lisa, together with Susan Hopkins and Martin Scott, answer some of the central questions on the use of celebrities in humanitarian campaigns. 


Image by Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images. From HuffPost

24 May 2018

In this article Lisa Ann Richey and Noel Sullivan shed light on what the issues of encouraging consumption to support a cause are, how we as consumers can make more informed choices to support the issues that matter to us and argue for the need of more engagement by governments, to ensure that there would be no need for Brand Aid or Celebrity Humanitarianism. 

14 February 2017

In this post and video by PeaceNews, leading scholars in celebrity humanitarianism discuss the role celebrities have in awareness raising for peace, and how their work could be improved.

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13 March 2016

Figure 2.3 Angelina Jolie and William Ha

10 July 2015

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of Geldof and Bono’s Live Aid, this article by Georgia Cole, Ben Radley and Jean-Benoit Falisse, discusses whether star backers cause damage by oversimplifying the politics of power.

Picture Crown Copyright/MOD/LA. Photo by Iggy Roberts


13 February 2015

The article by Heba Aly in The New Humanitarian, looks at the pitfalls, and some potentials of celebrity advocacy.

Image screencapture from The New Humanitarian


15 November 2011

A Commentary to Dara O'Rourke's opening in Boston Review on the role of consumers in transforming global production by Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte, outlines the shortcomings of "ethical consumption" and "brand aid" approaches to doing good and argue that labeling systems, regulation and state interventions are critical to the future of ethical production and consumption.

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