Gary Younge

The Documentary (EP. 8)

Stuart Hall: In Conversations revisits the life and work of the Jamaican-born cultural theorist, Stuart Hall, a key figure in the foundation of the field of Cultural Studies. Through interviews, music, and audio archives, this program examines the political and historical context that shaped Stuart Hall’s ideas.

From the 1950s until his death in 2014, Hall was a world renowned black public intellectual, known for his role in establishing the New Left in Britain, his groundbreaking analyses of Thatcherism, and his dialogical understanding of culture and representation.

Hall saw politics in a range of human formations, from the mundane and everyday to the global expansion of free market capitalism.He argued that culture should be understood both as a site for the reproduction of dominant ideologies as well as a location for resisting power and claiming new identities.

Stuart Hall’s visionary understandings of neoliberalism and what he called “authoritarian populism” are worth revisiting today in an era of racially charged nationalism, evidenced in the 2016 Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, Marine Le Pen’s rise in popularity in France, and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

Gary Younge (Ep. 2)

In his interview with Gary Younge, editor at large for The Guardian, UT Austin Professor Ben Carrington begins with a reflection on Younge’s article following Stuart Hall’s passing entitled, “Stuart Hall: A Class Warrior and a Class Act.” Younge praises Hall for not being interested in sounding clever or performing academic stardom.

This is particularly notable because, according to Younge, it is common for academic stars in the current era to say things that are catchy, “like dangling baubles that make people sit up and think you’re clever.”  On the contrary, Hall had a “soft and nurturing presence” and wanted to be useful rather than dominating.

This was evidenced in the way that Hall would “almost appear without a trace when he came into a room.” Younge first became aware of Stuart Hall when he was 7 or 8 through Hall’s position at the Open University, but then became more familiar with his work reading Marxism Today, especially “New Times.”

In addition to the relevance of his ideas, Younge reflects on how meaningful it was to see a black man as an intellectual who could say what he had to say but also keep his integrity intact. For Younge, it was significant that Hall did not appear embittered or insecure, that he “seemed happy in his skin” and that “he didn’t have to put someone else down in order to build himself up.”

Younge remembers his last communication with Hall, which was an exchange over Younge’s “Ethical World Cup.” Commenting on the loss of Hall, Younge states that while “there was never a time where we didn’t need him… arguably we need him now more than ever, though I guess that was always true.”

-Maggie Tate