Stuart Hall, a founder of the field of cultural studies and one of my intellectual heroes, has died. Two of his former students, David Morley and Bill Schwartz, have penned an obituary, published today in The Guardian.
Here is my favorite passage from Hall, from his 1992 article “Race, Culture, and Communications: Looking Backward and Forward at Cultural Studies”:
The work that cultural studies has to do is to mobilize everything that it can find in terms of intellectual resources in order to understand what keeps making the lives we live, and the societies we live in, profoundly and deeply antihumane in their capacity to live with difference. Cultural studies’ message is a message for academics and intellectuals but, fortunately, for many other people as well. In that sense, I have tried to hold together in my own intellectual life, on one hand, the conviction and passion and the devotion to objective interpretation, to analysis, to rigorous analysis and understanding, to the passion to find out, and to the production of knowledge that we did not know before. But, on the other hand, I am convinced that no intellectual worth his or her salt, and no university that wants to hold up its head in the face of the 21st century, can afford to turn dispassionate eyes away from the problems…that beset our world.
Nothing sums up the project of cultural studies better for me and, indeed, the type of work I aspire to do.
Thank you, Stuart Hall, for your bravery, intellectual leadership, and resolve. The world is a better place for your having been a part of it. You will be missed. Sorely.