Jamaican-born 'godfather of multiculturalism', Stuart Hall, dies

Tuesday, February 11, 2014    

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JAMAICAN-born sociologist and cultural theorist Stuart Hall, regarded as one of England's leading intellectuals, has died. He was 82.

Britiain's Guardian newspaper reported yesterday that Hall had been ill for some time and had retreated from public life.

Hall, who was known as the "godfather of multiculturalism", had a huge influence on academic, political and cultural debates for over six decades, the Guardian reported.

He "was professor of sociology at Open University from 1979 to 1997, topping off an academic career that began as a research fellow in Britain's first centre for cultural studies, set up by Richard Hoggart at the University of Birmingham in 1964" the Guardian story said.

Hall later led the centre and was seen as a key figure in the development of cultural studies as an academic discipline.

"But his impact was felt far outside the realms of academia. His writing on race, gender, sexuality and identity, and the links between racial prejudice and the media in the 1970s, was considered groundbreaking," the Guardian report said.

In the 1980s, Hall wrote for and was associated closely with the journal Marxism Today which criticised Thatcherism and challenged traditional left-wing thinking that held that culture was determined purely by economic forces.

That view, the Guardian noted, "would come to influence the Labour party leaders Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair".

The Guardian recalled that in one of its last interviews with Hall two years ago, he expressed pessimism about politics generally and the Labour party specifically.

"The left is in trouble. It has not got any ideas, it has not got any independent analysis of its own, and therefore it has got no vision. It just takes the temperature: 'Whoa, that's no good, let's move to the right.' It has no sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things," the newspaper quoted Hall as saying.

"Hall received a traditional 'English' schooling in Jamaica before winning a scholarship to Oxford University in 1951. He took a degree in English but later abandoned a PhD on Henry James to concentrate on politics, setting up the Influential New Left Review journal with the left-wing academics Raymond Williams and EP Thompson," the Guardian report said.

In September, a documentary about his life by film-maker John Akomfrah, called The Stuart Hall Project, was shown in cinemas.





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