Professor Stuart Hall, commonly referred to as the 'Godfather of multiculturalism' - a prominent cultural theorist whom for over fifty years, has led conversations on the subjects of identity, race, gender and sexuality in Britain has passed away, at the age of 82.
Born in Jamaica - 'home of hybridity' on February 3rd 1932, Hall arrived to England at the age of 18 as a 'bright, promising scholar' after winning a Rhodes scholarship to study English at Oxford University in 1951. Hall came and continues to play an integral part in the exploration of the complexities surrounding culturalism which was perhaps prompted by his own rhetorical questions of 'where on earth are these people going to? Where do they think they are going to?' as he observed his fellow islanders, arriving to London from Kingston during the Windrush era at Paddington station, in their Sunday clothes.
Coming from a family with British-ideals and aspirations; being a few shades darker than the rest of his siblings and parents - paired with his mother's craving for respectability which she associated with whiteness, Hall came to disappoint his mother's hope for him to not have the British think of him 'as being of those immigrants...those black black people' as he thought of himself as being exactly one of 'them' in 1950's Britain. These personal life treatments and similar discriminatory experiences such as the verbal racist abuse he would endure after his marriage to Catherine Hall on the streets of Birmingham, would further inspire Hall's critical exploration of race and identity on which he would often comment, observing that:
“...identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within the narratives of the past.”
In 1958, after abandoning a PhD on Henry James, Hall became founder and editor of the New Left Review - a 160-page journal, devoted to the analysis of world politics, the global economy, state powers and protest movements; contemporary social theory, history and philosophy; cinema, literature, heterodox art and aesthetics. (newleftreview.org)
In 1964, along with Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggard, Hall established the first Cultural Studies programme at a British university in Birmingham as an academic discipline. The programme focused on the study of popular culture and offered an understanding of the social and political changes in Britain.
Hall's obsvervations about culture remain relevant today as it were in the 80s and will continue to be referenced in the works of academic / intellectual studies and research by those interested in culturally, sociology and media driven topics.
His biographical documentary: The Stuart Hall Project, 2013 - directed by John Akomfrah, celebrates the life of Hall to the sound of Miles Davis' whose music to Hall, represented "the sound of what cannot be" (Desert Island Disc)
Stuart Hall dies on February, 10 2014 after years of suffering from poor health.