Stuart Hall: In Memoriam

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In Memoriam: Stuart Hall 1932 - 2014

It was with deep sorrow that I received news of Stuart Hall’s death earlier this week. He was one of the great progressive intellectuals of the last 100 years, and his contributions to the development of cultural studies were seminal and foundational.

Hall had a profound influence on my own life and work. Anyone who has heard me speak will know how much I reference him, and I am very proud to have worked on a number of films that introduced his work to a generation of American college students.

Stuart was also one of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met, treating university presidents and freshman students in exactly the same way. I have attempted to model my own intellectual life on the example he provided. The ultimate teacher, he was a public intellectual of the first order and a living embodiment of Antonio Gramsci’s famous phrase, “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”

Although physically ill for many years, Hall’s mind remained sharp, perceptive, and analytical as ever. In August of 2012, I interviewed him for the last time.

I asked Hall about the reprinting of Policing the Crisis (the great masterwork of cultural studies), the relationship between marxism and cultural studies, the changing political nature of cultural studies work, his thoughts on the election of Barack Obama, and his perspective on race, British identity, and the London Olympics.

To be in conversation with Stuart Hall was enjoyable, thrilling, and inspiring.

I will miss him deeply but I am heartened to know that the thousands of people he influenced and inspired will carry his legacy into our ongoing struggle.

Sut Jhally
Executive Director, Media Education Foundation

READThe Guardian‘s moving obituary for Stuart Hall, written by David Morley and Bill Schwartz
READ: Tariq Ali on Stuart Hall’s message
READ: Ben Carrington, “In Gratitude to Stuart Hall”
READ: Sut Jhally’s entry on Stuart Hall for The Routledge Dictionary of 20th Century Thinkers