Stuart Hall

(b. 1932)

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Left-wing Britishsociologist and cultural critic instrumental in the foundation of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline in the UK. Born in Jamaica and educated there, Hall moved to Bristol in the UK in 1951. He went to Merton College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, gaining an MA. He then took a position at Birmingham University. Together with Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson, he helped found the Marxist journal New Left Review in 1960 and edited it for two years before relinquishing the role to Perry Anderson. In 1964 he was invited by Richard Hoggart to join the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. He remained with the centre for 15 years, becoming its director in 1968. Over the years, Hall worked on a variety of collaborative projects at Birmingham (a pattern that obtained for much of his career), each analysing a different aspect of British life, such as those published as Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order (1978) and Resistance through Rituals (1976), that were to form the basis of the discipline today known as Cultural Studies. In contrast, to many of his sociology colleagues around Britain, Hall was an early adopter of what came to be known simply as ‘theory’, particularly the work of Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci and the French structuralistsLouis Althusser and Michel Foucault. In 1979 he moved to the Open University, where he remained until retirement in 1997. With the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, Hall seemed to find his vocation—documenting both the defeat of the Left and the seemingly irrepressible rise of the Right—and wrote what is arguably his most important book, the magisterial, if grim, The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left (1988). As with all his work, this book sought to identify the representational means by which hegemony is captured, paying particular attention to the ideological manipulation of identity.

Further Reading:

K-H. Chen and D. Morley (eds.)Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (1996).H. Davis Understanding Stuart Hall (2004).P. Gilroy et al. (eds.)Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall (2000).J. Procter Stuart Hall (2004).C. Rojek Stuart Hall (2002).

Subjects: Social Sciences — Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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