Chapter One: The Heart of Cultural Studies
1 I do not see much evidence that much of what claims to be cultural studies,
especially but not only in the United States, has gone through this moment
of self-reflection. Instead, all too frequently, critical work has forged another
kind of insularity by making self-reflection into a form of self-involvement,
becoming too inward-looking and personal. As Doreen Massey has observed
(personal communication, April 18, 2005), it has become too easy for critical
intellectuals to focus on questions of personal (internal) identity and memory,
on the West and the cities in which the authors live.
2 Although I am primarily drawing upon the work and words of Stuart Hall,
I believe this commitment is visible in general in the work of the Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies, as well as in other British cultural studies fig-
ures, such as Raymond Williams. Let me be clear here. I am not claiming that
Williams or all the people involved at the Centre were self-consciously radical
contextualists. I do think that this is what the practice was pointing toward,
although the vocabulary to describe it may not have been there. And of course,
the commitment may have been more or less strong (and more or less con-
scious) in different practices and practitioners. But as Stuart Hall once told
me (personal communication, April 10, 2005), “Never trust the teller, trust the
3 I do not mean to continue “mythologizing” the sixties. On the contrary, I
believe that the developments that began in the ’50s and ’60s have continued
to shape much of Western societies, if not even more globally. However, after
the 1960s, the relations among these different developments and movements
have become more fragmented and less cohesive, and they are no longer cen-
tered at a small number of geographical and institutional sites, such as the
4 Too often these tensions have been oversimplified, as if they could be reduced,
Previous Page Next Page