Stuart Hall is one of the founding figures in British cultural studies. He was the founding editor of New Left Review and director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham from 1968 to 1979, when he became Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at the Open University until his retirement in 1997. He subsequently held positions at Goldsmiths College and Queen Mary College, both of London University. He has served as Chair of both the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) and Autograph: The Association of Black Photographers and was the force behind and the original Chair of Rivington Place, a centre for cultural diversity in the arts in London.
«I left Jamaica 13 years before independece. So I’m a colonial really. That’s my formation.»
«In England I encountered the labour movement, unions, history of the British working class, E. P. Thompson and all that. I encountered Marxism. I encountered people who had been in the Communist Party. So I became politicized in another world, the world of the traditional independent left.»
«[…] a friend of mine and I had published a book called The Popular Arts, which was about popular culture. It was really intended for secondary schoolteachers to teach about the media in classes. At the time, there was no formal commitment, there was no university teaching in media studies, there was no film studies, nothing, and certainly not in schools. […] What are the students interested in? Well they’re interested in rock music, they’re interested in advertising, they’re interested in images, you know, this is where their heads are. So you ought to address that.»
«I was always convinced that culture was constitutive of any social formation. I’ve never been convinced that culture acted alone, so I’m not interested in cultural politics as the only kind of politic, but I’m interested in the fact that all politics requires economic, political and cultural conditions of existence.»
«Then the popular culture really shook the canon. Because in that high tradition, culture is nothing but the best that has been thought and said, and as Arnold said, it has no relation to the people that Arnold wrote about in Culture and Anarchy, shaking the fences at Hyde Park, demanding more political representation – nothing whatever to do with them.»
«Well, why do we have to learn about it [popular culture]? We have to learn about it because that’s what 9/10 of the country is listening to everyday. How can you not be interested in that?»
«If you say that culture is not just the best that’s been thought and said, but has something to do with a way of life, you are into trans-disiplinary territory.»
«It’s not that the act of deconstruction is wrong, but that the deconstruction has to come back. It has to affect the practice in the real world, in the concrete world, the people and the relationships and the institutions and what they do in the real world.»
«I don’t think cultural studies should take over the world, even the academic world. I really don’t. But if you are in cultural studies, you must know that that is not what your objective is. That it is a means to the objective end: understanding the relations among the elements is a whole way of life, as Raymond says. […] So the art is there with the families and the trading and the politics, how do you study that? How do you study the interconnections between all those things? You’ve just transformed the object of inquiry. Well that’ll do for us. You don’t need anything else.»
«So there’s a segmentation of these contradictions. Everybody is separate. […] So how do you get people to organize themselves? I mean can you see them join a committee with the students? The young feminists? The environmentalists? It’s segmentation. It’s fragmentation. It’s not an absence of contradiction. It does make an absence of anything like total consent. But it is at the very moment very difficult to see how to organize it and how can organize it.»
Stuart Hall (2013): STUART HALL INTERVIEW – 2 JUNE 2011, Cultural Studies, DOI:10.1080/09502386.2013.773674, Published by Routledge, Published online: 04 Mar 2013.
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