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‘Godfather of multiculturalism’ passes in the UK

Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall

(GIN) — Distinguished theoretician, sociologist and anti-colonialist writer Stuart Hall passed away Feb. 10 in the United Kingdom. He was 82.

Hall grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, studied at Oxford and became a fixture in leftist politics.

“When Stuart Hall came on the scene in the mid-1960s, the study of culture, and popular culture in particular, was not taken very seriously,” said Neda Ulaby of National Public Radio. “Hall helped change that. He was dubbed the ‘godfather of multiculturalism’ for the huge influence he had on academics around the world.”

“Cultural studies had been around before Stuart Hall. But he brought to it a perspective based on his background in the West Indies’ ferociously striated society,” she said.

Hall left for Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and later taught at Birmingham University, which he turned into a world renowned magnet for cultural studies.

“Hall’s work considered how people are taught to understand each other in terms of race and class, gender and sexual orientation,” said Ulaby. “In a notoriously combative field, Stuart Hall was revered for his commitment to exploring questions of equality, identity and social mobility.”

Hall was also an influential thinker about politics, particularly in the 1970s and 80s. In that period, he frequently wrote for Marxism Today — even coining the term “Thatcherism” in a 1979 article, according to Britain’s The Telegraph.

Last autumn, Hall was brought to the big screen, in “The Stuart Hall Project,” a documentary by acclaimed director John Akomfrah, for whom the academic was a personal hero.

One of the first to pay tribute to the “intellectual giant” was Grenadian Professor Gus John. “I have been hugely influenced by his work. In the last half a century or so, he was an intellectual giant. His work on the state and its relationship with people has been very influential in our struggles.

“His work on culture and imperialism was powerful and influential. He is a huge loss to Britain and the world.”

Dubbed the godfather of multiculturalism, Hall was born on Feb. 3, 1932, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaican High Commissioner Aloun Ndombet-Assamba said: “What can I really say about this man? I am very sad to hear of his death. His work and observations in the areas of cultural identity and society in the U.K. speaks for itself.”

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