Stuart Hall on “Doing Cultural Studies”
Beyond an accomplished and esteemed intellectual, Stuart Hall was a truly remarkable and fine person. I say this especially because of his modesty, his generosity, his warmth, and his interest and respect in listening to and valuing others people’s words, sentiments, and interests. While we met in person only on a few occasions and maintained sparse email exchanges, because of those very qualities that he exuded as a human being – his worldwide recognition notwithstanding –, I came to consider him a dear friend, beyond a very significant intellectual reference, or even a Master, as I once remarked to him. In fact, I will always remember the occasion when I mentioned this to him. It came up, unexpectedly for both, at a conference reception when we were talking while having a drink and a graduate student, whom neither of us knew ,came up to us, introduced himself and began to tell Stuart about his dissertation research. I marveled at how Stuart listened graciously and intently, commenting and inquiring about the subject in earnest simplicity, offering his thoughts and perspective as though a colleague or even a mentor. Eventually the student took his leave; it was then that I turned to Stuart and -spontaneously- said: “Stuart, you are truly a Master.” He looked at me surprised, albeit with a knowing smile took me by the elbow, and said: “Come on, Daniel!”, as though trying to brush off an undue spotlight. He was a brilliant yet unassuming and down-to-earth person.
One of the ways in which Stuart became a significant reference for me personally and professionally has to do with a conversation we had at a dinner in Birmingham (UK), in June of 2000, during the Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference. I had been invited to speak at the conference at a moment when I was profoundly concerned by what I perceived as a rapid and depoliticizing institutionalization of Cultural Studies in the United States, and its increasing influence in certain academic circles in Latin America. In fact, the focus of my lecture at that conference was precisely that problem, and the associated amnesia of those Latin American colleagues regarding the importance of pre-existing traditions of intellectual practices in culture and power in this part of the world. At the time I was coordinating a Working Group of the Latin American Council on Social Sciences (CLACSO) that was preparing a publication on studies and other intellectual practices in culture and power.
Daniel Mato is Principal Researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 he is the Chair of the Programme on Cultural Diversity and Interculturality in Higher Education of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO-IESALC). Up to 2010 he was Full Professor at Universidad Central de Venezuela. Since 1986 he has developed several experiences of collaboration with intellectuals and organizations of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. He has also been a visiting professor in universities of Spain, United States and several various Latin American countries.