Johanna Hood, Assistant Professor. Roskilde University, Department of Society and Globalisation.
For this project I examine the contours of modern celebrity activism and philanthrocapitalism in China. I highlight how understandings and forms of celebrity and heroism, as seen through the case of one of China’s current celebrities and ‘AIDS hero’ Pu Cunxin and ‘AIDS ambassador’ Peng Liyuan, differ from established Euro-American traditions and modern forms of activism in social causes. Both Pu and Peng are intimately connected to the Chinese Communist Party. Peng is a military general, both are party members and are delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), but are best known for their appearance in film, music, on national television programs, and now in public health advertisements and public service announcements. Their involvement in HIV/AIDS and more recently tuberculosis as ‘heros’ and ‘ambassadors’ furthers their notoriety while positions them as critics of the Chinese state’s management of its health reform and China’s ailing citizens.