#RIP: Stuart McPhail Hall (3 February 1932 – 10 February 2014)

Hall Stuart.jpgStuart Hall was born in Kingston, Jamaica, into a middle-class Jamaican family of Indian, African and British descent.[5] In Jamaica he attended Jamaica College, receiving an education modelled after the British school system.[6] In an interview Hall describes himself as a “bright, promising scholar” in these years and his formal education as “a very ‘classical’ education; very good but in very formal academic terms.” With the help of sympathetic teachers, he expanded his education to include “T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Freud, Marx, Lenin and some of the surrounding literature and modern poetry,” as well as “Caribbean literature.”[7] Hall’s later works reveal that growing up in the pigmentocracy of the colonial West Indies, where he was of darker skin than much of his family, had a profound effect on his views of the world.[8][9]

In 1951 Hall won a Rhodes Scholarship to Merton College at the University of Oxford, where he studied English and obtained an M.A.,[10] becoming part of the Windrush generation, the first large-scale immigration of West Indians, as that community was then known. He continued his studies at Oxford by beginning a Ph.D. on Henry James but, galvanised particularly by the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary (which saw many thousands of members leave the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and look for alternatives to previous orthodoxies) and Suez Crisis, abandoned this in 1957[10] or 1958[6] to focus on his political work. From 1958 to 1960, Hall worked as a teacher in a London secondary modern school[11] and in adult education, and in 1964 married Catherine Hall, concluding around this time that he was unlikely to return permanently to the Caribbean.[10]

After working on the Universities and Left Review during his time at Oxford, Hall joined E. P. Thompson, Raymond Williams and others to merge it with The New Reasoner, launching the New Left Review in 1960 with Hall named as the founding editor.[6] In 1958, the same group, with Raphael Samuel, launched the Partisan Coffee House in Soho as a meeting-place for left-wingers.[12] Hall left the board of the New Left Review in 1961[13] or 1962.[9]

Hall’s academic career took off after co-writing The Popular Arts with Paddy Whannel in 1964. As a direct result, Richard Hoggart invited Hall to join the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, initially as a research fellow and initially at Hoggart’s own expense.[9] In 1968 Hall became director of the Centre. He wrote a number of influential articles in the years that followed, including Situating Marx: Evaluations and Departures (1972) and Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse (1973). He also contributed to the book Policing the Crisis (1978) and coedited the influential Resistance Through Rituals (1975).

After his appointment as a professor of sociology at the Open University[14] in 1979, Hall published further influential books, including The Hard Road to Renewal (1988), Formations of Modernity (1992), Questions of Cultural Identity (1996) and Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (1997). Through the 1970s and 1980s, Hall was closely associated with the journal Marxism Today;[15] in 1995, he was a founding editor of Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture.[16]

Hall retired from the Open University in 1997. Hall received the European Cultural Foundation‘s Princess Margriet Award in 2008. Hall died on 10 February 2014, from complications following kidney failure.[17][18]

via Stuart Hall cultural theorist – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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