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Work-in-progress seminar - 20th July, 1.45-2.45pm - CANCELLED

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We're delighted to announce the next CIGS Work-In-Progress seminar. These seminars are a chance for colleagues to introduce work they are developing in order to get feedback. The events are intended as a constructive space to try out in-development work as well as being a great opportunity to learn more about each others' research. There's no need to book to join the session - just turn up ready to chat. The session will be  held on Zoom and you can find joining information at the end of this page. This will probably be our final event for this academic year and all are welcome.

For this seminar, Kim Allen and Jessica Martin (both from SSP) will be discussing an in-progress journal article. Please see the provisional title and abstract below:

Scripting the nation: pandemic celebrity, national treasures and welfare imaginaries 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrities occupied a highly contested space within the popular and political imaginary. Whilst the suffering engendered by the pandemic led some commentators to herald the ‘death of celebrity culture’, some celebrities took part in fundraising initiatives, public health campaigns and philanthropic ventures, with some taking on the status of ‘national treasure’. This paper examines two such celebrity figures who gained particular luminosity in the UK for their charitable and campaigning work during the pandemic: war veteran Sir Captain Tom Moore and footballer Marcus Rashford.  Through a close discourse analysis of these two ‘pandemic celebrities’, we consider what ideological work such figures do in securing and contesting dominant notionsof nationhood and welfare imaginaries within times of heightened crisis.

The paper expands upon Greer and McLaughlin’s (2019) theorisation of the ‘national treasure’ through engaging with Valluvan’s (2019) work on ‘new nationalism’, postcolonial analyses of the welfare state (Bhambra, 2022) and feminist scholarship on the hegemonic function of celebrity and popular media within contexts of welfare reform (e.g. Jensen and Tyler 2015; Littler 2014; Martin 2022; Mendick et al 2018).  Analysing national newspaper coverage and television documentaries about Moore and Rashford collected from the first 18 months of the pandemic, we examine how these figures performed a crucial role in ‘scripting of a national story’ (Hall 1999) within the contemporary conjuncture. We first show how Moore played a key function in upholding idealized and racialised visions of nationhood, rooted in war time nostalgia and imagined ethnic commonality, whilst propagating ‘Big Society’ welfare rhetoric and a romanticised and depoliticised vision of the NHS.  By contrast, Rashford’s pro-welfare demands and critiques of the UK government, although fragile, challenged both the anti-welfarism and ‘Big Society’ rhetoric of neoliberal austerity. Moreover, we argue that Rashford’s mediation reveals the contestations and challenges to hegemonic visions of nationhood and dominant welfare imaginaries, highlighting the classed and racialised logics and practices of exclusion and extraction that underpin these. 

To join the seminar, please follow the link below:

Meeting ID: 823 2785 8923

Passcode: J5AfR^