Stuart Henry McPhail Hall
3 February 1932
|Died||10 February 2014 82) (aged|
|Alma mater||Merton College, Oxford|
|Known for||Founder of New Left Review , Articulation, Encoding/decoding model of communication, Reception theory|
|Fields||Cultural Studies, Sociology|
|Institutions|| University of Birmingham |
|Influences||Karl Marx • Antonio Gramsci • Raymond Williams • Richard Hoggart • Louis Althusser • Michel Foucault|
Stuart McPhail Hall FBA (3 February 1932 – 10 February 2014) was a Jamaican-born British Marxist sociologist, cultural theorist and political activist. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of Cultural Studies.
Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:
Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The UK's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
In the 1950s Hall was a founder of the influential New Left Review . At Hoggart's invitation, he joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964. Hall took over from Hoggart as acting director of the Centre in 1968, became its director in 1972, and remained there until 1979.While at the Centre, Hall is credited with playing a role in expanding the scope of cultural studies to deal with race and gender, and with helping to incorporate new ideas derived from the work of French theorists like Michel Foucault.
The New Left Review is a bimonthly political academic journal covering world politics, economy, and culture which was established in 1960.
The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) was a research centre at the University of Birmingham, England. It was founded in 1964 by Richard Hoggart, its first director. From 1964 to 2002, the Centre played a "critical" role in developing the field of cultural studies.
Hall left the centre in 1979 to become a professor of sociology at the Open University.He was President of the British Sociological Association 1995–97. He retired from the Open University in 1997 and was a professor emeritus. British newspaper The Observer called him "one of the country's leading cultural theorists". Hall was also involved in the Black Arts Movement. Movie directors such as John Akomfrah and Isaac Julien also see him as one of their heroes.
The Open University (OU) is a public research university, and the biggest university in the UK for undergraduate education. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study off-campus; many of its courses can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff.
The British Sociological Association (BSA) is a scholarly and professional society for sociologists in the United Kingdom, and was founded in 1951. It publishes the academic journals Sociology, Work, Employment and Society and Cultural Sociology as well as its membership newsletter Network and a monthly eNewsletter. Formerly, the British Journal of Sociology was the BSA's official journal, but it was replaced by Sociology some years after the latter had been established.
The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993, it takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. First published in 1791, it is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.
Hall was married to Catherine Hall, a feminist professor of modern British history at University College London, with whom he had two children.
Catherine Hall is a British feminist historian. Since 2009, she has been Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London. Her work explores the interrelation between metropole and colony in an attempt to rewrite the narrative of certain aspects of 'British history' in the mid-nineteenth century empire period.
University College London, which has operated under the official name of UCL since 2005, is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. It is a member institution of the federal University of London, and is the third largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment, and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.
Stuart Hall was born in Kingston, Jamaica, into a middle-class Jamaican family of African, British, Portuguese Jewish and likely Indian descent.He attended Jamaica College, receiving an education modelled after the British school system. In an interview Hall describes himself as a "bright, promising scholar" in these years and his formal education as "a very 'classical' education; very good but in very formal academic terms." With the help of sympathetic teachers, he expanded his education to include "T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Freud, Marx, Lenin and some of the surrounding literature and modern poetry", as well as "Caribbean literature". Hall's later works reveal that growing up in the pigmentocracy of the colonial West Indies, where he was of darker skin than much of his family, had a profound effect on his views.
Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States.
Jamaica College is a public, Christian, secondary school and sixth form for boys in Kingston, Jamaica. It was established in 1789 by Charles Drax.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, "one of the twentieth century's major poets", was also an essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary and social critic. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States, to a prominent Boston Brahmin family, he moved to England in 1914 at the age of 25, settling, working, and marrying there. He became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39, renouncing his American passport.
In 1951 Hall won a Rhodes Scholarship to Merton College at the University of Oxford, where he studied English and obtained an M.A.,becoming part of the Windrush generation, the first large-scale emigration of West Indians, as that community was then known. He continued his studies at Oxford by beginning a Ph.D. on Henry James but, galvanised particularly by the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary (which saw many thousands of members leave the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and look for alternatives to previous orthodoxies) and the Suez Crisis, abandoned this in 1957 or 1958 to focus on his political work. In 1957, he joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and it was on a CND march that he met his future wife. From 1958 to 1960, Hall worked as a teacher in a London secondary modern school and in adult education, and in 1964 married Catherine Hall, concluding around this time that he was unlikely to return permanently to the Caribbean.
The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford. It was established in 1902, making it the first large-scale programme of international scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship was founded by English businessman and politician Cecil John Rhodes, to promote unity between English-speaking nations and instill a sense of civic-minded leadership and moral fortitude in future leaders irrespective of their chosen career paths. Although initially restricted to male applicants from countries which are today within the British Commonwealth, as well as Germany and the United States, today the Scholarship is open to applicants from all backgrounds and from across the globe. Since its creation, controversy has surrounded both its former exclusion of women, and Rhodes' Anglo-supremacist beliefs and legacy of colonialism.
Merton College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to support it. An important feature of Walter's foundation was that this "college" was to be self-governing and the endowments were directly vested in the Warden and Fellows.
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
After working on the Universities and Left Review during his time at Oxford, Hall joined E. P. Thompson, Raymond Williams and others to merge it with The New Reasoner , launching the New Left Review in 1960 with Hall as the founding editor.In 1958, the same group, with Raphael Samuel, launched the Partisan Coffee House in Soho as a meeting place for left-wingers. Hall left the board of the New Left Review in 1961 or 1962.
Hall's academic career took off in 1964 after he co-wrote with Paddy Whannel of the British Film Institute (BFI) "one of the first books to make the case for the serious study of film as entertainment", The Popular Arts.As a direct result, Richard Hoggart invited Hall to join the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, initially as a research fellow at Hoggart's own expense. In 1968 Hall became director of the Centre. He wrote a number of influential articles in the years that followed, including Situating Marx: Evaluations and Departures (1972) and Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse (1973). He also contributed to the book Policing the Crisis (1978) and coedited the influential Resistance Through Rituals (1975).
After his appointment as a professor of sociology at the Open University (OU) in 1979, Hall published further influential books, including The Hard Road to Renewal (1988), Formations of Modernity (1992), Questions of Cultural Identity (1996) and Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (1997). Through the 1970s and 1980s, Hall was closely associated with the journal Marxism Today ;in 1995, he was a founding editor of Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture .
He spoke internationally on Cultural Studies, including a series of lectures in 1983 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that were recorded and would decades later form the basis of the 2016 book Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History (edited by Jennifer Slack and Lawrence Grossberg).
Hall was the founding chair of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and the photography organization Autograph ABP (the Association of Black Photographers).
Hall retired from the Open University in 1997. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2005 and received the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award in 2008.He died on 10 February 2014, from complications following kidney failure, a week after his 82nd birthday. By the time of his death, he was widely known as the "godfather of multiculturalism". His memoir, Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, (co-authored with Bill Schwarz), was posthumously published in 2017.
Hall's work covers issues of hegemony and cultural studies, taking a post-Gramscian stance. He regards language-use as operating within a framework of power, institutions and politics/economics. This view presents people as producers and consumers of culture at the same time. (Hegemony, in Gramscian theory, refers to the socio-cultural production of "consent" and "coercion".) For Hall, culture was not something to simply appreciate or study, but a "critical site of social action and intervention, where power relations are both established and potentially unsettled".
Hall became one of the main proponents of reception theory, and developed Hall's Theory of encoding and decoding. This approach to textual analysis focuses on the scope for negotiation and opposition on the part of the audience. This means that the audience does not simply passively accept a text—social control. Crime statistics, in Hall's view, are often manipulated for political and economic purposes. Moral panics (e.g. over mugging) could thereby be ignited in order to create public support for the need to "police the crisis". The media play a central role in the "social production of news" in order to reap the rewards of lurid crime stories.
Hall's works, such as studies showing the link between racial prejudice and media, have a reputation as influential, and serve as important foundational texts for contemporary cultural studies. He also widely discussed notions of cultural identity, race and ethnicity, particularly in the creation of the politics of Black diasporic identities. Hall believed identity to be an ongoing product of history and culture, rather than a finished product.
In his essay "Reconstruction Work: Images of Postwar Black Settlement", Hall also interrogates questions of historical memory and visuality in relation to photography as a colonial technology. Understanding and writing about the history of Black migration and settlement in Britain during the postwar era requires a careful and critical examination of the limited historical archive, and photographic evidence proves itself invaluable. But photographic images are often perceived as more objective than other representations, which is dangerous. One must critically examine who produced these images, what purpose they serve, and how they further their agenda (e.g., what has been deliberately included and excluded in the frame). For example, in the context of postwar Britain, photographic images like those displayed in the Picture Post article "Thirty Thousand Colour Problems" construct Black migration, Blackness in Britain, as "the problem".They construct miscegenation as "the centre of the problem", as "the problem of the problem", as "the core issue".
Hall's political influence extended to the Labour Party, perhaps related to the influential articles he wrote for the CPGB's theoretical journal Marxism Today (MT) that challenged the left's views of markets and general organisational and political conservatism. This discourse had a profound impact on the Labour Party under both Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair, although Hall later decried New Labour as operating on "terrain defined by Thatcherism".
Hall presented his encoding and decoding philosophy in various publications and at several oral events across his career. The first was in "Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse" (1973), a paper he wrote for the Council of Europe Colloquy on "Training in the Critical Readings of Television Language" organised by the Council & the Centre for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leicester. It was produced for students at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which Paddy Scannell explains: "largely accounts for the provisional feel of the text and its 'incompleteness'".In 1974 the paper was presented at a symposium on Broadcasters and the Audience in Venice. Hall also presented his encoding and decoding model in "Encoding/Decoding" in Culture, Media, Language in 1980. The time difference between Hall's first publication on encoding and decoding in 1973 and his 1980 publication is highlighted by several critics. Of particular note is Hall's transition from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies to the Open University.
Hall had a major influence on cultural studies, and many of the terms his texts set forth continue to be used in the field. His 1973 text is viewed as a turning point in Hall's research toward structuralism and provides insight into some of the main theoretical developments he explored at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.
Hall takes a semiotic approach and builds on the work of Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco.The essay takes up and challenges longheld assumptions about how media messages are produced, circulated and consumed, proposing a new theory of communication. "The 'object' of production practices and structures in television is the production of a message: that is, a sign-vehicle or rather sign-vehicles of a specific kind organized, like any other form of communication or language, through the operation of codes, within the syntagmatic chains of a discourse".
According to Hall, "a message must be perceived as meaningful discourse and be meaningfully de-coded before it has an effect, a use, or satisfies a need". There are four codes of the Encoding/Decoding Model of Communication. The first way of encoding is the dominant (i.e. hegemonic) code. This is the code the encoder expects the decoder to recognize and decode. "When the viewer takes the connoted meaning full and straight and decodes the message in terms of the reference-code in which it has been coded, it operates inside the dominant code." The second way of encoding is the professional code. It operates in tandem with the dominant code. "It serves to reproduce the dominant definitions precisely by bracketing the hegemonic quality, and operating with professional codings which relate to such questions as visual quality, news and presentational values, televisual quality, 'professionalism' etc."The third way of encoding is the negotiated code. "It acknowledges the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grand significations, while, at a more restricted, situational level, it makes its own ground-rules, it operates with 'exceptions' to the rule". The fourth way of encoding is the oppositional code, also known as the globally contrary code. "It is possible for a viewer perfectly to understand both the literal and connotative inflection given to an event, but to determine to decode the message in a globally contrary way." "Before this message can have an 'effect' (however defined), or satisfy a 'need' or be put to a 'use', it must first be perceived as a meaningful discourse and meaningfully de-coded."
Hall challenged all four components of the mass communications model. He argues that (i) meaning is not simply fixed or determined by the sender; (ii) the message is never transparent; and (iii) the audience is not a passive recipient of meaning.For example, a documentary film on asylum seekers that aims to provide a sympathetic account of their plight does not guarantee that audiences will feel sympathetic. Despite being realistic and recounting facts, the documentary must still communicate through a sign system (the aural-visual signs of TV) that simultaneously distorts the producers' intentions and evokes contradictory feelings in the audience.
Distortion is built into the system, rather than being a "failure" of the producer or viewer. There is a "lack of fit", Hall argues, "between the two sides in the communicative exchange"—that is, between the moment of the production of the message ("encoding") and the moment of its reception ("decoding").In "Encoding/decoding", Hall suggests media messages accrue commonsense status in part through their performative nature. Through the repeated performance, staging or telling of the narrative of "9/11" (as an example; there are others like it), a culturally specific interpretation becomes not only plausible and universal but elevated to "common sense".
In his influential 1996 essay “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”, Hall presents two different definitions of cultural identity.
In the first definition, cultural identity is a "a sort of collective 'one true self'… which many people with a shared history and ancestry hold in common."In this view, cultural identity provides a "stable, unchanging and continuous frame of reference and meaning" through the ebb and flow of historical change. This allows the tracing back the origins of descendants and reflecting on the historical experiences of ancestors as a shared truth Therefore, blacks living in the diaspora need only "unearth" their African past to discover their true cultural identity. While Hall appreciates the good effects this first view of cultural identity has had in the postcolonial world, he proposes a second definition of cultural identity that he views as superior.
Hall's second definition of cultural identity "recognises that, as well as the many points of similarity, there are also critical points of deep and significant difference which constitute 'what we really are'; or rather – since history has intervened – 'what we have become.'"In this view, cultural identity is not a fixed essence rooted in the past. Instead, cultural identities “undergo constant transformation” throughout history as they are "subject to the continuous 'play' of history, culture, and power". Thus Hall defines cultural identities as “the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past.” This view of cultural identity was more challenging than the previous due to its dive into deep differences, but nonetheless it showed the mixture of the African diaspora."In other words, for Hall cultural identity is "not an essence but a positioning".
Hall describes Caribbean identity in terms of three distinct "presences": the African, the European, and the American.Taking the terms from Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor, he describes the three presences: "Présence Africaine", "Présence Européenne", and "Présence Americaine" (230). "Présence Africaine" is the "unspeakable 'presence' in Caribbean culture" (230). According to Hall, the African presence, though repressed by slavery and colonialism, is in fact hiding in plain sight in every aspect of Caribbean society and culture, including language, religion, the arts, and music. For many black people living in the diaspora, Africa becomes an "imagined community" to which they feel a sense of belonging. But, Hall points out, there is no going back to the Africa that existed before slavery, because Africa too has changed. Secondly, Hall describes the European presence in Caribbean cultural identity as the legacy of colonialism, racism, power and exclusion. Unlike the "Présence Africaine", the European presence is not unspoken even though many would like to be separated from the history of the oppressor. But Hall argues that Caribbeans and diasporic peoples must acknowledge how the European presence has also become an inextricable part of their own identities. Lastly, Hall describes the American presence as the "ground, place, territory" where people and cultures from around the world collided. It is, as Hall puts it, "where the fateful/fatal encounter was staged between Africa and the West", and also where the displacement of the natives occurred (234).
Because diasporic cultural identity in the Caribbean and throughout the world is a mixture of all these different presences, Hall advocates a "conception of 'identity' which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by hybridity".According to Hall, black people living in diaspora are constantly reinventing themselves and their identities by mixing, hybridizing, and "creolizing" influences from Africa, Europe, and the rest of the world in their everyday lives and cultural practices. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all cultural identity for diasporic people, but rather a multiplicity of different cultural identities that share both important similarities and important differences, all of which should be respected.
Hall was a presenter of a seven-part television series entitled Redemption Song — made by Barraclough Carey Productions, and transmitted on BBC2, between 30 June and 12 August 1991 — in which he examined the elements that make up the Caribbean, looking at the turbulent history of the islands and interviewing people who live there today.The series episodes were as follows:
Hall's lectures have been turned into several videos distributed by the Media Education Foundation:
Mike Dibb produced a film based on a long interview between journalist Maya Jaggi and Stuart Hall called Personally Speaking (2009).
Hall is the subject of two films directed by John Akomfrah, entitled The Unfinished Conversation (2012) and The Stuart Hall Project (2013). The first film was shown (26 October 2013 – 23 March 2014) at Tate Britain, Millbank, London,while the second is now available on DVD.
The Stuart Hall Project was composed of clips drawn from more than 100 hours of archival footage of Hall, woven together over the music of jazz artist Miles Davis, who was an inspiration to both Hall and Akomfrah.
The film's structure is composed of multiple strands. There is a chronological grounding in historical events, such as the Suez Crisis, Vietnam War, and the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, along with reflections by Hall on his experiences as an immigrant from the Caribbean to Britain. Another historical event vital to the film was the 1958 Notting Hill race riots occasioned by the murder of a Black British man; these protests showed the presence of a Black community within England. When discussing the Caribbean, Hall discusses the idea of hybridity and he states that the Caribbean is the home of hybridity. There are also voiceovers and interviews offered without a specific temporal grounding in the film that nonetheless give the viewer greater insights into Hall and his philosophy. Along with the voiceovers and interviews, embedded in the film are also Hall's personal achievements; this is extremely rare, as there are no traditional archives of those Caribbean peoples moulded by the Middle Passage experience.
The film can be viewed as a more pointedly focused take on the Windrush generation, those who migrated from the Caribbean to Britain in the years immediately following World War II. Hall, himself a member of this generation, exposed the less glamorous truth underlying the British Empire experience for Caribbean people, contrasting West Indian migrant expectations with the often harsher reality encountered on arriving in the Mother Country.
A central theme in the film is Diasporic belonging. Hall confronted his own identity within both British and Caribbean communities, and at one point in the film he remarks: "Britain is my home, but I am not English."
IMDb summarises the film as "a roller coaster ride through the upheavals, struggles and turning points that made the 20th century the century of campaigning, and of global political and cultural change."
In August 2012, Professor Sut Jhally conducted an interview with Hall that touched on a number of themes and issues in cultural studies.
Hazel Vivian Carby is a professor of African American Studies and of American Studies. She serves as Charles C & Dorathea S Dilley Professor of African American Studies & American Studies at Yale University.
Paul Gilroy FBA is a British historian, writer and academic, who is Professor of American and English Literature at King's College, London and will be the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Race and Racism at University College London in August 2019. Gilroy is the 2019 winner of the €660,000 Holberg Prize, for "his outstanding contributions to a number of academic fields, including cultural studies, critical race studies, sociology, history, anthropology and African-American studies".
Dick Hebdige is an expatriate British media theorist and sociologist, and a Professor of Art and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work is commonly associated with the study of subcultures, and its resistance against the mainstream of society. His current research interests include media topographies, desert studies, and performative criticism.
Hybridity, in its most basic sense, refers to mixture. The term originates from biology and was subsequently employed in linguistics and in racial theory in the nineteenth century. Its contemporary uses are scattered across numerous academic disciplines and is salient in popular culture. Hybridity is used in discourses about race, postcolonialism, identity, anti-racism and multiculturalism, and globalization, developed from its roots as a biological term.
The Nationwide Project was an influential media audience research project conducted by the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, England, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its principal researchers were David Morley and Charlotte Brunsdon.
Horace Ové, CBE, is a Trinidad-born British filmmaker, photographer, painter and writer. One of the leading black independent film-makers to emerge in Britain since the post-war period, Ové holds the Guinness World Record for being the first black British film-maker to direct a feature-length film, Pressure (1975). In its retrospective history, 100 Years of Cinema, the British Film Institute (BFI) declared: "Horace Ové is undoubtedly a pioneer in Black British history and his work provides a perspective on the Black experience in Britain."
George Lamming is a Barbadian novelist, essayist and poet and an important figure in Caribbean literature, who first won critical acclaim with his debut novel, In the Castle of My Skin (1953). He has held academic posts including as a distinguished visiting professor at Duke University and a visiting professor in the Africana Studies Department of Brown University, and has lectured extensively around the world.
The Encoding/decoding model of communication was first developed by cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall in 1973. Titled 'Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse', Hall's essay offers a theoretical approach of how media messages are produced, disseminated, and interpreted. As an important member of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies, Hall had a major influence on media studies. His model claims that television and other media audiences are presented with messages that are decoded, or interpreted in different ways depending on an individual's cultural background, economic standing, and personal experiences. In contrast to other media theories that disempower audiences, Hall proposed that audience members can play an active role in decoding messages as they rely on their own social contexts, and might be capable of changing messages themselves through collective action.
John Akomfrah, CBE is a British artist, writer, film director, screenwriter, theorist and curator of Ghanaian descent, whose "commitment to a radicalism both of politics and of cinematic form finds expression in all his films".
Angela McRobbie, FBA is a British cultural theorist, feminist and commentator whose work combines the study of popular culture, contemporary media practices and feminism through conceptions of a third-person reflexive gaze. She is a Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Also known as reception analysis, audience reception theory has come to be widely used as a way of characterizing the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, this work has adopted a "culturalist" perspective, has tended to use qualitative methods of research and has tended to be concerned, one way or another, with exploring the active choices, uses and interpretations made of media materials, by their consumers. Can also be known as reception theory, in which producers encode with a desired response, then the audience decode.
Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. The field of cultural studies encompasses a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives and practices. Although distinct from the discipline of cultural anthropology and the interdisciplinary field of ethnic studies, cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these fields.
Alison Donnell is an academic, originally from the United Kingdom. She is Professor of Modern Literatures and Head of the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She was previously Head of School of Literature and Languages at the University of Reading, where she also founded the research theme "Minority Identities: Rights and Representations". Her primary research field is anglophone postcolonial literature, and she has been published widely on Caribbean and Black British literature. Much of her academic work also focuses questions relating to gender and sexual identities and the intersections between feminism and postcolonialism.
The Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC), founded in 1982 and active until 1998, comprised seven Black British and diaspora multimedia artists and film makers: John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, Edward George and Claire Joseph. Joseph left in 1985 and was replaced by David Lawson. The group initially came together as students at Portsmouth Polytechnic, and after graduation relocated to Hackney in east London.
The Stuart Hall Project is a 2013 British film written and directed by John Akomfrah centred on cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who is regarded as one of the founding figures of the New Left and a key architect of Cultural Studies in Britain. The film uses a montage of documentary footage together with Hall's own words and thoughts to produce what Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called "an absorbing account", awarding it four stars and stating that it has "an idealism and high seriousness that people might not immediately associate with the subject Hall pioneered". Sight & Sound magazine's Ashley Clark described it as "a strongly personal work" that "unfolds simultaneously as a tribute to a heroic figure, a study of the emergence of the New Left and its attendant political ideas, and a summation, in thematic and technical terms, of the key characteristics of Akomfrah’s body of work thus far ."
The Unfinished Conversation is a 2012 multi-layered three-screen installation directed by John Akomfrah, co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective. Through his celebrated technique of juxtaposing and layering archive footage with text, music and photographs, Akomfrah crosses the memory landscape of Stuart Hall, Jamaican-born founder of British Cultural Studies, to reflect on the nature and complexities of memory and identity. The Unfinished Conversation was commissioned by Autograph ABP. It opened at Tate Britain, London, on 26 October 2013, following its premiere at Bluecoat during the 2012 Liverpool Biennial.
Mark Sealy MBE is a British curator and cultural historian with a special interest in the relationship of photography to social change, identity politics and human rights. In 1991 he became the director of Autograph ABP, the Association of Black Photographers, based since 2007 at Rivington Place, a purpose-built international visual arts centre in Shoreditch, London. He has curated several major international exhibitions and is also a lecturer.
Roshini Kempadoo is a British photographer, media artist, and academic. For more than 20 years she has been a lecturer and
Bill Schwarz is a British historian, academic and writer, who is a Professor in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London, his research focusing on postcolonial history. Schwarz is the author of Memories of Empire: The White Man’s World, which was Book of the Year at the Longman/History Today Awards in 2013. He is literary executor, with Catherine Hall, of cultural theorist Stuart Hall, whose posthumously published memoir Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands was co-written with Schwarz. He is an editor of History Workshop Journal, and General Editor of the Duke University Press series "The Writings of Stuart Hall".
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