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NATO’s Strategic Narratives: Angelina Jolie and the alliance’s celebrity and visual turn

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Katharine A. M. WrightORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Angelina Jolie’s high profile visit to NATO in 2018 signals a move to brand the alliance’s strategic narrative within the language of celebrity through engagement with popular culture. The partnership represents a significant change in the alliance’s approach to global security. It also builds on a shift in NATO’s self-narrative through the advocacy of gender justice related to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Rather than fading into the background, NATO appears to be pursuing the limelight for the purpose of ‘awareness raising’ as a tool to implement the WPS agenda. Drawing upon feminist scholarship on the WPS agenda, NATO, and research on celebrity humanitarianism and politics we provide a critical study of this change in NATO’s strategic narrative, through the analysis of visual and textual material related to Jolie’s visit to NATO. Our focus is on the significance of this partnership and its contribution to legitimising the alliance’s self-defined ‘military leadership’ in the area of conflict-related sexual violence. While Jolie’s visit to NATO opened the alliance to public scrutiny it also symbolised a form of militarism, surrounded by orchestrated visual representations. As such it only marginally disrupted the militarist logic present in NATO’s wider WPS engagement.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wright KAM, Bergman-Rosamond A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Review of International Studies

Year: 2021

Volume: 47

Issue: 4

Pages: 443-466

Print publication date: 01/10/2021

Online publication date: 10/05/2021

Acceptance date: 24/03/2021

Date deposited: 23/03/2021

ISSN (print): 0260-2105

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9044

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0260210521000188


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