01 February 2019

Remembering Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall – teacher, cultural theorist, campaigner, and founder and co-editor of Soundings – was born in Kingston, Jamaica on February 3rd 86 years ago. One of the founding figures of British Cultural Studies, Stuart is remembered for his pioneering insights about the centrality of culture to politics, and about identity and representation, race and empire, Thatcherism, neoliberalism, hegemony, and so much more.  

To celebrate the anniversary of his birth, we’ve curated some of our favourite Stuart quotes and recordings. We’re also offering 30% off a selection of texts written and inspired by him until March 2019: Selected Political Writings; Culture, Politics, Race and Diaspora; Identity: Community, Culture, Difference; and The Kilburn Manifesto.

Some of our favourite Stuart Hall moments

‘You can see the impulse of the British to close in on older images of themselves … to defend themselves against all this ‘otherness’ that is pressing on them.’
On culture and multiculturalism in the 2011 BBC4 documentary ‘The Culture Wars’ (at 1.11).

Speaking on the shift, in the 1980s, away from the certainties and large collectivities that had previously characterised politics. From John Akomfrah’s biographical documentary The Stuart Hall Project (2013).

Interviewed by Laurie Taylor for BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Aloud: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b00zfkfn

‘Britain is not homogenous; it was never a society without conflict. The English fought tooth and nail over everything we know of as English political virtues – rule of law, free speech, the franchise. The very notion of Great Britain’s ‘greatness’ is bound up with empire.’

‘Popular culture is one of the sites where [the] struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle. It is the arena of consent and resistance.’

Appreciation for Stuart Hall

‘He was not interested in sounding clever but in being useful and making a difference. His intellectual product was not a performance but an engagement: a genuine desire to understand the world as it is, not as he would like it to be, and to help change it by offering insights and interventions that might help make that world possible.’
 - Gary Younge in The Guardian

‘The legitimisation of doubt, to be hesitant not certain, to engage with the probability of things we thought were right being wrong – Stuart opened up all those possibilities, but never in the abstract, and not to demoralise either.’
 - Mark Perryman 

‘For those who knew him, Stuart remains the constant interlocutor, imaginary friend and mentor who looks over one’s shoulder as one writes, steering the writing away from the crass, the too abstract or too removed from the reality of people’s lives.’
 - Couze Venn

You can read more tributes on our Stuart Hall: In Memoriam page.