'This is the most lucid and engaged account of Stuart Hall's work. Meticulously, and with an exemplary generosity, Helen Davis patiently unravels the threads of Hall's intellectual history. The result is a most useful and thoughtful book, which could prove to be indispensable for students of cultural studies' - Graeme Turner, University of Queensland Understanding Stuart Hall traces the development of one of the most influential and respected figures within cultural studies. Focusing on Stuart Hall's writings over a period of nearly fifty years, this volume offers students and academics a cogent and exploratory route through complex and overlapping areas of analysis. In her critical assessment of Hall's most important contributions to academic and public debate, Davis shows the extent to which his analyses of race and ethnicity have been informed by early studies of Marxism, class and 'societies structured in dominance'. Davis offers fresh insight into the formation of one of the most prolific, charismatic and controversial intellectuals of his generation. Despite having been branded a 'cultural pessimist', Stuart Hall has long been associated with encouraging new, cutting-edge scholarship within the field. This volume concludes with a discussion of Hall's most recent political and academic interventions and his continuing commitment to innovation within the visual arts.

Encountering the Mother Country

Encountering the mother country

The story in my family which was always told as a joke, was that when I was born, my sister, who was much fairer than I, looked into the crib and she said, ‘where did you get this coolie baby from?’ (Hall, quoted in Morley and Chen, 1996: 485)


Stuart Hall was born in 1932 into a middle-class family living in the suburbs of Kingston, Jamaica. The youngest of three children he was noticeably ‘blacker’ than his siblings. This marker of difference within the family was an early signal for Hall that his family was not a straightforward homogenous entity. As with many families of Hall's generation it was not unusual for members of the same family to have ...

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