Regarded as the father of cultural theory and one of the foremost intellectuals of the British left, Stuart Hall revolutionised thinking about race and class and the role of popular art forms in mainstream culture


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Professor Stuart Hall was born in Kingston, Jamaica, 1932 to a middle class family. A brilliant student, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and arrived in the UK in 1951 to study at Merton College, Oxford.

He was co-founder of the New Left Review, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Raphael Samuel and Raymond Williams, and later joined Richard Hoggart’s Contemporary Centre for Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham.

In 1979 he was appointed professor of sociology at the Open University, where he reinforced his reputation as someone who thought outside of the box, continuing to expand the scope of cultural studies to include race, gender and the media.

At a time when the political discourse in Britain was comparatively honest and adventurous, he became a frequent pundit on TV discussion programmes, valued for his clarity of thought and fluent delivery.

Suez, Hungary, the murder of Kelso Cochrane, Vietnam and the Cold War were among the defining moments of his early years in Britain. But he was no armchair activist and during the 1960s went up and down the country addressing CND rallies.

He is the author of many critically acclaimed books including The Politics of Thatcherism (1983) – it was his seminal article, ‘The Great Moving Right Show’, for Marxism Today in 1979 in which he famously coined the term ‘Thatcherism’.

He collaborated with many artists, chairing Autograph (The Association of Black Photographers) and Iniva (The International Institute of Visual Arts). He helped secure funding for Rivington Place in London, a purpose-built centre dedicated to public education in multicultural issues through contemporary art and photography.

His last work, Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, published posthumously in 2017, is both a memoir and examination of how the forces of history shape who we are and the society we live in.

Not long before his death in 2013, filmmaker John Akomfrah paid homage to him in The Stuart Hall Project. With a soundtrack provided by Stuart’s musical hero Miles Davis, the documentary weaves archive and home movie material to tell the story of his life and ideas.
The Stuart Hall Foundation was launched in 2015 to continue Stuart’s legacy by supporting scholars and artists “who take risks and are committed to thinking differently from the mainstream”.

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