Stuart Hall, a peerless mediator

McLennan, Gregor; Robbins, Bruce; McRobbie, Angela; St Louis, Brett and Hall, Catherine. 2021. Stuart Hall, a peerless mediator. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture(79), pp. 51-77. ISSN 1362-6620 [Article]

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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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31 October 2021Accepted
1 November 2021Published

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19 Oct 2022 10:54

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01 Nov 2022 02:26


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