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Stories of OprahThe Oprahfication of American Culture$
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Trystan T. Cotten and Kimberly Springer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734072

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734072.001.0001

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Oprah Goes to Africa

Oprah Goes to Africa

Philanthropic Consumption and Political (Dis)Engagement

Chapter:
(p.99) 7 Chapter Seven Oprah Goes to Africa
Source:
Stories of Oprah
Author(s):

Heather Laine Talley

Monica J. Casper

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604734072.003.0008

This chapter draws on Oprah’s “Christmas Kindness” (2005) episode, released as part of The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary DVD Collection, to interrogate her philanthropic activities in Africa. It analyzes Oprah’s holiday adventure and her efforts to convince viewers of the “joy” of giving to needy Africans. The chapter suggests that while Oprah is “doing good,” she is simultaneously displacing political engagement on the part of viewers/consumers with a weak and ultimately ineffective version of action. Oprah-style philanthropy may bring in dollars through appeals to emotion, but it precludes direct, sustained political engagement and thus ultimately lasting structural change.

Keywords:   Oprah Winfrey, Africa, aid, political engagement, philanthropy

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