Caribbean Biography Series
- Published: October 2020
A pioneer in the field of cultural studies, Stuart Hall produced an impressive body of work on the relationship between culture and power. His contributions to critical theory and the study of politics, culture, communication, media, race, diaspora and postcolonialism made him one of the great public intellectuals of the late twentieth century.
For much of his career, Hall was better known outside the Caribbean than in the region. He made his mark most notably in the United Kingdom as head of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and at the Open University, where his popular lecture series was broadcast on BBC2. His influence expanded from the late 1980s onwards as the field of cultural studies gained traction in universities worldwide.
Hall’s middle-class upbringing in colonial Jamaica and his subsequent experience of immigrant life in the United Kingdom afforded him a unique perspective that informed his groundbreaking work on the complex power dynamics of race, class and empire.
This accessible, lively biography provides glimpses into Hall’s formative Jamaican years and includes segments from his hitherto unpublished early writing. Annie Paul gives us an engaging introduction to a globally renowned Caribbean intellectual.
- Award-Winning Finalist in the Biography: General category of the 2021 International Book Awards
It has been the main function of national cultures, which are systems of representation, to represent what is in fact the ethnic hodgepodge of modern nationality as the primordial unity of “one people”…. What’s more, this hybridity of the modern nation state is, in the present phase of globalization, being compounded by one of the largest forced and unforced mass migrations in recent times. So that, one after another, western nation states, already “diaspora-ised” beyond repair, are becoming inextricably multicultural – mixed ethnically, religiously, culturally and linguistically.
- Stuart Hall, “Our Mongrel Selves”1
Thus wrote Stuart Hall in the early 1990s, the most globally influential intellectual Jamaica has yet produced, skillfully unravelling the complex processes by which national identity is constituted and reconstituted in the face of rapid globalization. Identity, whether communal or individual, and the politics of who we think we are and how and why we become ourselves were the abiding focus of Hall’s life and work.