White Saviorism and Popular Culture

Kathryn Mathers



This book interrogates the white savior industrial complex by exploring how America continues to present an imagined Africa as a space for its salvation in the 21st century.

Through close readings of multiple mediated sites where Americans imagine Africa, White Saviorism and Popular Culture examines how an era of new media technologies is reshaping encounters between Africans and westerners in the 21st century, especially as Africans living and experiencing the consequences of western imaginings are also mobilizing the same mediated spaces. Kathryn Mathers emphasizes that the articulation of different forms of humanitarian engagement between America and Africa marks the necessity to interrogate the white savior industrial complex and the ways Africa is being asked to fulfill American needs as life in the United States becomes increasingly intolerable for Black Americans. Drawing on case studies from Savior Barbie (@barbiesavior) to Black Panther and Black is King, Mathers posits that global imperialism not only still reigns, but that it also disguises white supremacy by outsourcing Black American emancipation onto an imagined Africa.

This is crucial reading for courses on the cultural politics of representation, particularly in relation to race, social media and popular culture, as well as anyone interested in issues of representation in the global humanitarianism industry.