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robertogreco : jeremygilbert   1

A tribute to Stuart Hall | openDemocracy
"This was very important to a teenage ‘unreconstructed post-punk’ (as I would have it) in the waning days of Thatcher’s premiership: ‘not talking shit’ was basically my criterion for what it meant to be a successful human being. Hall’s incisive analyses of the relationship between culture, power, technological and social change made more sense to me than anything else I had ever read, or heard, or thought. His Gramscian understanding of Thatcherism finally helped me to understand the apparently glaring contradictions inherent in the Tories’ commitment to radical individualism and social conservatism. His contributions to Marxism Today’s ‘New Times’ project seemed to me to define what a progressive politics should look like in the (post)modern age: working with the grain of cultural and technological change towards democratic and egalitarian ends. It still does."



"But I only fully began to appreciate the sheer enormity of Stuart’s contribution as I began to work out for myself what it might mean to be a politically engaged teacher of ‘cultural studies’. For while the exotic theory in which I was so fluent - from Althusser to Zizek - was all very well for impressing fellow grad students, my own students - working-class and intellectually curious - wanted to know what I could tell them about the world as it was, and as it was changing. And here it was Stuart’s method, bringing together sociology, ideology critique, semiotics, political sociology and necessary speculation that would prove very often the only way to address the key question which mattered to them and to me: the question of which power relationships were shaping our lives, and of how to understand, and potentially how to transform them. Stuart always insisted that the key issue for cultural studies is the issue of power, and that the key question for cultural studies, when asking about any phenomenon whatsoever, is ‘what does this have to do with everything else.’ They are elegant, efficient, economical dictums which serve any aspiring political or cultural analyst well."



"The debt which so many of us owe to Stuart is not only a political or a collective one however. For someone like myself, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that without the support, intervention and inspiration of Stuart and his many cohorts of students, there simply would not have been careers, institutional homes, or public opportunities for people like us at all. What would have become of this disgruntled teenager, angry, dismayed, disillusioned with the shit-talking that saturated public-culture, unsuited to the the life of a traditional academic institution, if Stuart and others had not created an institutional space which could nurture us, give us a home, enable us to grow and find a place in the world? I dread to think, but I sometimes think that I would not have reached middle age.

Stuart’s example remains today quite a difficult one to follow.  Hardly ever a solo author, by nature a great collaborator, the competitive individualism into which aspiring young academics are forced today was anathema to him. But as he was always the first to acknowledge, he was in part the beneficiary, as well as one of the architects, of the British university’s golden social-democratic age. He lamented that ‘cultural studies’ as it was taught and practiced in most academic institutions today was too often reduced to cultural theory, with very little in the way of conjunctural analysis going on anywhere; yet he acknowledged that the individualisation and instrumentalisation of the academy increasingly pushed scholars towards personal projects with grandiose, abstract ambitions (my own would be no exception). But it is worth reflecting that one of the places where he did see that form of intellectual work which he so valued continuing was in fact here, on the digital commons of openDemocracy."
stuarthall  collaboration  academia  individualism  2014  obituaries  subcultures  marxism  power  society  socialchange  jeremygilbert  powerrelationships  class  culture  culturalstudies  semiotics  sociology  politics  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  thatcherism  capitalism  anticapitalism 
february 2014 by robertogreco

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