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From his arrival in Britain in the 1950s and involvement in the New Left, to founding the field of cultural studies and examining race and identity in the 1990s and early 2000s, Stuart Hall has been central to shaping many of the cultural and political debates of our time. Essential Essays—a landmark two-volume set—brings together Stuart Hall's most influential and foundat From his arrival in Britain in the 1950s and involvement in the New Left, to founding the field of cultural studies and examining race and identity in the 1990s and early 2000s, Stuart Hall has been central to shaping many of the cultural and political debates of our time. Essential Essays—a landmark two-volume set—brings together Stuart Hall's most influential and foundational works. Spanning the whole of his career, these volumes reflect the breadth and depth of his intellectual and political projects while demonstrating their continued vitality and importance. Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora draws from Hall's later essays, in which he investigated questions of colonialism, empire, and race. It opens with “Gramsci's Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity,” which frames the volume and finds Hall rethinking received notions of racial essentialism. In addition to essays on multiculturalism and globalization, black popular culture, and Western modernity's racial underpinnings, Volume 2 contains three interviews with Hall, in which he reflects on his life to theorize his identity as a colonial and diasporic subject.


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From his arrival in Britain in the 1950s and involvement in the New Left, to founding the field of cultural studies and examining race and identity in the 1990s and early 2000s, Stuart Hall has been central to shaping many of the cultural and political debates of our time. Essential Essays—a landmark two-volume set—brings together Stuart Hall's most influential and foundat From his arrival in Britain in the 1950s and involvement in the New Left, to founding the field of cultural studies and examining race and identity in the 1990s and early 2000s, Stuart Hall has been central to shaping many of the cultural and political debates of our time. Essential Essays—a landmark two-volume set—brings together Stuart Hall's most influential and foundational works. Spanning the whole of his career, these volumes reflect the breadth and depth of his intellectual and political projects while demonstrating their continued vitality and importance. Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora draws from Hall's later essays, in which he investigated questions of colonialism, empire, and race. It opens with “Gramsci's Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity,” which frames the volume and finds Hall rethinking received notions of racial essentialism. In addition to essays on multiculturalism and globalization, black popular culture, and Western modernity's racial underpinnings, Volume 2 contains three interviews with Hall, in which he reflects on his life to theorize his identity as a colonial and diasporic subject.

39 review for Essential Essays, Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora

  1. 4 out of 5

    Don

    This second volume of Hall’s ‘Essential Essays’ follows, and presumably builds on, the presentation of the foundations of Cultural Studies, which was the theme of the first volume. In truth the positions set out in this book return to and develop much of the foundational/methodological work and the arguments about identity and the diasporic cultural origins of blackness were already signalled in volume 1. No matter – the sense you get in reading Hall is of a mind constantly returning to the same This second volume of Hall’s ‘Essential Essays’ follows, and presumably builds on, the presentation of the foundations of Cultural Studies, which was the theme of the first volume. In truth the positions set out in this book return to and develop much of the foundational/methodological work and the arguments about identity and the diasporic cultural origins of blackness were already signalled in volume 1. No matter – the sense you get in reading Hall is of a mind constantly returning to the same issues he encountered back in the 1950s, as a young man freshly arrived in the UK from colonial Jamaica. He reiterates the reasons for his strong stance against essentialist perspectives on the formation of identity. His blackness (or my whiteness) did not grow from an inner core of being to shape every thought and response to the way the world works. It emerged from a social-cultural process which consisted of multiple domains of logic and activity, many of which were in relationships of tension, and sometime outright contradiction, with one another. His method insisted that there was no single, final determinant that ensured that one identity would emerge from this mess of contending forces, whether that be the orthodox Marxist claim for ‘His Majesty, the Economy”, or the idealist preference for ‘culture’. The Gramscian concept of hegemony provides the lodestone for all of Hall’s work: we might be racist (or might not be) because we live in a social structure that makes racism, or reaction against racism, a reasonable response to the way the world impacts on our lives. But it all this seems a messy and random way to think about the issues, with outcomes being almost a throw of the dice as to whatever the outcome, Hall offers up reasons to resist that conclusion. There is a structure beneath the wash of social and cultural forces that allows us to navigate our ways through the confusion, and, sometimes, to influence outcomes. That structure comes from language, and the fact that in order to be able to use it we each have to go through a process of de-centring (of coming to terms with the fact that meaning lies outside us as individuals) and then having to struggle to find meaning in places where parameters are constantly shifting. The basic steps of the process for finding meaning unfold through the logic of encountering difference – A is A because it is not B – and identification: I am with the As because I share the difference they have with the Bs. All of this is set out in the opening essay on Gramsci’s relevance for the study of race and ethnicity. The book then follows this with an essay which elaborates on Hall’s understanding about the politics of ‘the local’, and the role they play in establishing the hegemony of particular sets of identity over others. This is an opportunity to talk about the ‘black experience’, formed out of the experiences in the West out of the various forms of migration. The common fact of displacement from origin societies, and the subsequent lives of black people in more-or-less hostile white society, makes it possible for people of African descent in the Americas and Europe to conceive of themselves as sharing a common blackness. But the politics of blackness – ie anti-racism – are shaped by the need to react to the specific feature of the societies they found themselves in. In the Americas, this was marked by the experience of enslavement and the segregation of the post-slave period. In Europe, the shaping factors were colonialism and economic migration. The essays move on to consider popular culture and multiculturalism. With regard to the former, Hall qualifies his anti-essentialism with an acknowledgement of the importance at particular moments in time of ‘strategic essentialism’ – which allowed a collective black identity to be forged at a critical moment in time to provide people to generate the communal resources needed to resist racism. A cultural moment is included in this generation of resistance. Music in particular provided the opportunity to make a statement about black identity which was projected far beyond the communities themselves. Literature, visual art, dance and drama added to this repertoire, alongside the numerous ways of being, in speech, on the street, in places of worship, which began to define the experience of being consciously black. These developments poised the challenge of society have to accommodate these cultural expressions – to become multicultural. Hall writes of this term as an ‘empty signifier’ – something that acquired precise meaning in the context in which it was used. By adding ‘-ism’ to the adjective he explains that it becomes a political ideology, often of ‘pat and pedestrian’ doctrinaire type. But exactly what it is, and whether is can be anything other than a pious wish that everyone would just get along with each other, will have to be decided on the terrain of politics. For it to escape from banality the multicultural question needs, or so it seems, to become a disruptive force within the political and social institutions of Western society. This includes confronting the social forces that have produced the concept of ‘race’ in the first place, with a version of multiculturalism that disrupts racialisation and the claims for rigid boundaries for ethnicity. These and other themes are constantly returned to and developed across all the essays in these two volumes. This is the doggedness of a radical, critical mind for whom these issues were never settled in academic papers, but required evidence that they were unsettling the hegemony of a ‘society structured in dominance’ before Hall could move on and take up the challenges that would become clearer after that advance had been made. At the very end of his life he saw the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement from its base of activists resisting the murderous activities of US police force. This has certainly proved to be an advance that would have brought back to his desk to think through and offer up perspectives on the nature of the challenge that was now being thrown up against capitalist hegemony. We need to hope we hear the voices of his successors very soon.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell McInnis

    A gorgeous collection. If you haven't read Stuart Hall, do your education a service and dip in. He's a one-of-kind thinker and writer. A gorgeous collection. If you haven't read Stuart Hall, do your education a service and dip in. He's a one-of-kind thinker and writer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Stuart Hall is brilliant and this collection is really well put together. My obly gripe is that it is very long and some of the interviews could have been excised or at least trimmed for content.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    😛🌍🌎🌏🧩🎓📌💭

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claire L’Heureux

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luqdah

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    Sulo R. Asirvatham

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    Sauli

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    Quinn

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    Ren Allen

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    Jordan

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    Anna Auzāne

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    Hend Khaled

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    Abel

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    Baron Glanvill

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    Colin

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    Neil

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    Inès Hajri

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    Coly Chau

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    Anna Daley Laursen

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    Nom De-Script

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    Greg

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    booksandcoffee

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    Larissa Nordholt

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    Cudelice Brazelton

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    Remy

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    Gurmeet

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    Bhandit Grivijitra

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    Emma Parker

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    Elka S

  39. 4 out of 5

    Salome

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