Commodifying Compassion: Linking Ethical Consumption with Everyday Humanitarianism

Inaugural lecture by Professor Lisa Ann Richey, MSC

Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 15:00 to 17:00

The lecture takes place in Dalgas Have 15, room 2Ø.074.

Lisa Ann Richey

Commodifying Compassion: Linking Ethical Consumption with Everyday Humanitarianism

Have you purchased a bottle of Kildevæld water that promises clean water for African children, bought a soft toy from IKEA for families affected by disaster, or perhaps drank a ‘cup of hope’ with Starbucks coffee from Eastern Congo? Today’s marketplace is inundated with products supporting humanitarian causes that promise to give aid to distant beneficiaries, provide ‘good feelings’ to consumers and promote the brands of corporations and humanitarian NGOs. These ‘Brand Aid’ initiatives provide a neoliberal solution to humanitarian crises and sustainable development challenges by linking privatized politics of consumption to global change. My inaugural lecture will draw on two decades of research examining the relationships between global values and local practices of ‘humanitarianism’ to understand how ‘helping’ has become a marketable commodity and how this impacts humanitarianism both symbolically and materially.

This lecture will explore the implications of commodifying compassion for business, politics and individual social relations. 

Lisa Ann Richey is Professor of Globalization in the Department of Management, Society and Communication at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. She joined CBS after 15 years at Roskilde University where she was Director of the Doctoral School of Social Sciences and Business and Professor of International Development Studies. Currently, she leads the research projects Commodifying Compassion: Implications of Turning People and Humanitarian Causes into Marketable Things (2016-2020), funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (FSE) and Everyday Humanitarianism in Tanzania (2019-2024), funded by the Danish Development Research Council (FFU).

Among other books, she has authored Batman Saves Congo: Celebrity, Disruption and Neoliberal Development with Alexandra Budabin (forthcoming); Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World with Stefano Ponte (2011); Population Politics and Development: From the Policies to the Clinics (2008) and edited Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power (2016).  She works in the areas of international aid and humanitarian politics, the aid business and commodification of causes, new transnational actors and alliances in the global South, development theories and representations, global health and gender. Lisa was the founding Vice-President of the Global South Caucus of the International Studies Association (ISA).

The lecture will be followed by a short reception in second floor in West, room 2V.088 from 16.00-17.00.

Please register for the event no later than 18 February by clicking here.

The event is organised by the Department of Management, Society and Communication.

The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Society and Communication // 02/01/2019