From Denmark with Love

Postdoc. project funded by the Danish Research Council for the Social Sciences

Lene Bull Christiansen, Ph.D. Department of Culture and Identity, Roskilde University.


This research project deals with Danish celebrity narratives of development aid as a double articulation of national and transnational communality. This takes point of departure in the specificities of the Danish political and cultural context; primarily political struggles over Denmark’s position in global politics and a re-articulation of Denmark’s global image in the aftermath of the ‘cartoon crisis’ and Danish participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the last 10 years, a shift has occurred in Danish development awareness campaigns, away from ‘information about’ (so-called folkeoplysning) towards an affective modality of ‘witnessing.’ Central to this shift has been the ‘celebrity as moderator’; a narrative strategy in which ‘problems and solutions’ are mediated on a personalised level, through the eyes of the celebrity narrator, who witnesses ‘devastating suffering’ and ‘wonderful transformations.’ The experience of an emotional journey of healing or transformation in Africa affected by Danish development aid is then narrated onto a Danish aid-donating public as a narrative of how Danes enter into global communality by acting on suffering Africans.

The research project explores how such narratives connect Danes with suffering Africans in an affective economy, and, how Danes can ascribe new meaning to the nation via the celebrity performance of affective communality.


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