The scholar Paul Gilroy is credited with bringing about a better understanding of what it means to be black and British in a global world

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A professor of American and English Literature at King’s College, London, Paul Gilroy is particularly known for his scholarly work in cultural studies. In the 1990s, his theories were influential in shaping the debate around race, identity and multiculturalism.

He was born in the UK in 1956. His mother is the novelist and teacher Beryl Gilroy. After studying at the University of Sussex, Paul undertook his doctoral studies at the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he worked with the social theorist Professor Stuart Hall. “If Stuart Hall was a major voice at the Centre, then Paul Gilroy… carried a master voice to new resonance”, the US academic Houston A Baker has written.

While at Birmingham, Paul co-authored The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 1970s Britain (1982), a ground-breaking study with a group of scholars that included Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parma.

In 1987 he published There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack, in which he examines anti-black racism in Britain. In The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1994), Paul argues that the identity of the black diaspora has refused to be constrained by any one national culture, whether it is Euro-American, or African Caribbean.

He taught at Goldsmiths College for a number of years before taking up the position of chair of the department of African American Studies and Charlotte Marian Saden Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Yale University. He was the first professor to hold the Anthony Giddens Professorship in Social Theory at King’s College, London, a position he held between 2005 and 2012.

In the 1980s, he was associated with the weekly London listings magazine City Limits, and was contributing editor to The Wire, a jazz magazine, for which he later wrote a regular column. Other publications he wrote for were New Statesman, Society and New Musical Express.

He received a fellowship from Sussex University, honorary doctorates from Goldsmiths and the University of Liege, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is also an international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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