Mother Teresa was one of the most written about and publicised women in modern times. Apart from Pope John Paul II, she was arguably the most advertised religious celebrity in the last quarter of the twentieth century. During her lifetime as well as posthumously, Mother Teresa continues to generate a huge level of interest and heated debate.
Gëzim Alpion explores the significance of Mother Teresa to the mass media, to celebrity culture, to the Church and to various political groups. A section explores the ways different vested interests have sought to appropriate her after her death, and also examines Mother Teresa's own attitude to her childhood and to the Balkan conflicts in the 1980s and 1990s.
This book sheds a new and fascinating light upon this remarkable and influential woman, which will intrigue followers of Mother Teresa and those who study the vagaries of stardom and celebrity culture.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Preface by Professor David Marsh Introduction 1. Mother Teresa and Celebrity Culture 2. The Balkans Appropriation of Mother Teresa 3. The Forgotten Years 4. Mother Teresa’s Attitude towards Her Early Years 5. Jesus the Divine Superstar 6. From Church Rebel to Church Asset Conclusion. Select Bibliography. Select Filmography. Index
Gëzim Alpion is Lecturer in Sociology and Media Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He received a PhD from the University of Durham, UK, in 1997. Alpion is a versatile academic, writer, playwright, essayist and journalist. His works include Vouchers (2001), Foreigner Complex (2002), If Only the Dead Could Listen (2006) and Encounters with Civilizations (2007).
'It is a clever book, providing a great deal of original and new thought on the subject.' - Primrose Peacock, Friends of Albania
'In his unparalleled scholarly book, Alpion has presented a multidimensional portrait of Mother Teresa. And she appears human as she rarely did in any discourse about her.' - Gaston Roberge, The New Leader
'In its depth, breadth, and seriousness, this volume may stand for some time to come as the single most imporant biography of Mother Teresa in English ... A great value of this book is that [Alpion] has provided us with the fullest portrait yet of her native culture and her maturation' – Center for Islamic Pluralism
'This book of Alpion's feels like a whiff of delightfully fresh air. It is the work of an open and dedicated scholar, who despite his reverence for the nun has yet striven to be as unbiased as possible, never letting his emotions get in the way. I would have no hesitation at all in recommending this book to everyone.' – Bulletin of the Faculty of Foreign Studies
'I enjoyed this book and anyone interested in how Albanian identity is understood and constructed should take the time to read it carefully.' -- Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
‘Alpion’s examination of Mother Teresa’s celebrity is a case study of corporate identity management in today’s global media environment. His weaving of primary texts into the setting of this character piece creates a comprehensive cross-cultural examination that has the potential to become a new archetypal work of this mercurial personality.’ -- Marvin Williams, American Communication Journal, USA
‘In its depth, breadth, and seriousness, this volume may stand for some time to come as the single most important biography of Mother Teresa in English.’ -- Stephen Schwartz, Illyria, New York, USA
‘After Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? scholarship about Mother Teresa will not be the same.… In his unparalleled scholarly book, Alpion has presented a multidimensional portrait of Mother Teresa. And she appears human as she rarely did in any discourse about her.’ -- Professor Gaston Roberge, The New Leader, India
‘One must ungrudgingly give it to Alpion that this has been a work of monumental proportions involving great dexterity….All methodological exclusivity has been abjured, allowing the multihued disciplines to coalesce as needed in the research….All this makes the book compulsory reading.’ -- Professor Bonita Aleaz, Head of Department of Political Science, University of Calcutta, The Asia Journal of Theology, India
‘[A] superbly researched work…. After Germaine Greer, Christopher Hitchens and Susan Shields this book of Alpion’s feels like a whiff of delightfully fresh air…. I would have no hesitation at all in recommending this book to everyone.’ -- Professor Cyril Veliath, Bulletin of the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan
‘Alpion is to be congratulated on both the depth of his research spread over several years, and the balanced way he sets out his facts….It is a clever book, providing a great deal of original and new thought on the subject but it is not a book to skim through in a couple of hours.’ -- Primrose Peacock, Catholic South West, UK
‘Alpion’s book....is unique in locating the appeal of Mother Teresa within today’s broader celebrity culture…. For Alpion, celebrity culture is a modern form of religion and Mother Teresa was the ultimate religious celebrity of the modern era.’ --Dr Stuart Derbyshire, Spiked Magazine, UK
‘Alpion [who] writes illuminatingly about different forms of "celebrity discourse"…has written an absorbing analysis what this nun has meant to the world.’ -- John Hodgson, Light Magazine, UK
‘This engaging book raises as many questions as it answers…. Alpion unpacks the full historical background in meticulous detail... The result is intriguing, if a little unsatisfactory. His thesis is original: Mother Teresa knew well what she was about… Her success and subsequent "fame" were of her own making, and she was far brighter than she made out… So there was sacrifice involved in her quest for fame, but was her integrity one of the casualties? That is what this book tries to explore — hence its telling subtitle.’ -- Dr Lavinia Byrne, Church Times, UK
‘Alpion has not simply added another book to the already vast literature on Mother Teresa; he has actually enriched it. …Alpion has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary popular culture.’ --Dr Michael Schmidt-Neke, Albanische Hefte, Bochum, Germany
‘I can’t but conclude that after all of his careful research and reasoned probing, Alpion was personally touched by this great woman…. Alpion does ask some controversial questions. However, his answers are fair and reasoned from his point of view.’ -- Dr Margaret Nutting Ralph, Albanian Journal of Politics, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
‘[T]he book does offer the migrationist a very useful account of an exceptional migration trajectory and, although this is not a declared objective of the book, it is also worth reading for its migratory sub-text. Mother Teresa as a migrant woman in the early part of the twentieth century makes for fascinating speculation regarding her motives and the modality of her mobility. I enjoyed this book and anyone interested in how Albanian identity is understood and constructed should take the time to read it carefully.’ -- Professor Glyn Davies, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, UK
‘The most authoritative English-language author on Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is Gëzim Alpion…a pioneer in the academic study of the phenomenon of celebrity.’ -- Stephen Schwartz, Folks Magazine, India
‘In addition to [Aroup] Chatterjee’s books Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict and Mother Teresa: The Untold Story, and Christopher Hitchens’ The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, there is one by Gëzim Alpion, titled Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? which was as critical of Teresa as the other works mentioned earlier. Published in 2006, it exposed the well-orchestrated publicity blitz that Mother Teresa encouraged about herself, even when her real charity work didn’t count for much.’
Dr T. Hanuman Chowdary, Swarajya, India