Editorial introduction: in memory of Stuart Hall (1932-2014)
Stuart Hall has been and will remain the most influential and most respected figure in the global scene of cultural studies. His cultural studies has always been more than an interdisciplinary academic exercise, it is a strategic site of practices grounded in, and connected with, the politics of the new left and the black community in the UK. For many of us who have chosen to enter the field of cultural studies, it was due to encounters with Hall, who is not only a genuine human being and a profound thinker, but also a rare intellectual model; he has found a unique way to be deeply engaged in the local but is able to inspire others living in different parts of the world. The loss of Stuart Hall is, therefore, an irreplaceable loss of inspiration and support.
When he left us physically on February 10th 2014, how do we begin to account for Stuart Hall’s enormous influences so that his critical spirit can be kept alive?
Looked at retrospectively, Stuart Hall was a fortunate teacher. In his CCCS (Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University) era, from 1964 to 1979, Hall was able to meet many brilliant students who had the guts to break away from conventional disciplines and to try out an alternative mode of knowledge production by working together as a group. These students later became the earlier generation cultural studies practitioners producing brilliant pioneering works, without which cultural studies could not have taken off. Some of these works remain seminal classics today; others (eg. Policing the Crisis) became the preparation for Hall himself to enter a next moment of the wider political debate in the 1980s, for instance, on Thatcherism, works which opened up the later debate on neo-liberalism. As a whole, Hall via CCCS has nurtured and cultivated a large number of important researchers and produced high quality intellectual works that no other teacher or single institution is able to accomplish in 15-20 years, a very short period of time in this occasion. Hall’s unique ability to work with individuals and groups was the basis of his lasting influences.
Kuan-Hsing Chen teaches in the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His most recent publication is Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010, Duke University Press).