Stuart Hall, a peerless mediator

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2021 Number 79

Stuart Hall, a peerless mediator
Gregor McLennan, Bruce Robbins, Angela McRobbie, Brett St Louis, Catherine Hall, pages 51-77

Abstract

The authors discuss Stuart Hall’s lifelong critical engagement with Marxism - though his was a complex, subtle, agonistic, Marxism, where nothing is taken for granted. This engagement continued even as postcoloniality, ethnicity, race and identity steadily came to the centre of Hall’s attention, constituting ways of thinking that in some ways represented a departure. Hall can be seen as a mediator, both within Marxism - for example structuralism versus culturalism - and between Marxism and other discourses, finding areas in common as well as difference, respecting aspects of a position without endorsing whole positions; and in so doing transforming the problem under consideration. He is also discussed as an organic intellectual, who - though with no assumption of a shared class or shared party - sought to create a collective self-consciousness, a coalition, that could offer an effective challenge to the state. The concept of conjuncture is an important part of these ideas. These aspects of Hall’s work are discussed further in relation to racialisation and racism, where Hall is seen as committed to both analytic and practical observation, and to humanism as well as Marxism: the people at the centre of the analysis are agents not categories. Hall was not aiming to bring things to a rounded, validity-seeking coherence, but to always leave some strands open: his thinking is constitutively open. At the same time his underlying, very simple, message is that, in some way or another, the many issues we face are all connected, and we should never give up the integrative pluralism of political thinking. The great danger is fragmented pluralism, where the politics of difference, wherever the differences are, leads to political de-alignment rather than coalitional unity.

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To cite this article
Gregor McLennan, Bruce Robbins, Angela McRobbie, Brett St Louis, Catherine Hall (2021) Stuart Hall, a peerless mediator, Soundings, 2021(79), 51-77

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