Stuart Hall as a political intellectual
Michael Rustin
here is, of course, something slightly anomalous about gath-
a collection of Stuart Hall’s work under the title of ‘Political
Writings’. This is because, while the essays in this collection are cer-
tainly ‘political’ in their topics and concerns, so was virtually
everything that Hall wrote.1 With Universities and Left Review, the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the early New Left Review,
Marxism Today, Soundings and the Kilburn Manifesto, and in other
such contexts throughout his life, Hall worked with political friends
and comrades to make many political interventions. But each of the
major areas of his work for example his decisive contribution to the
invention and development of the field of Cultural Studies, his work
in redefining the sociology curriculum at the Open University, his
contributions to the understanding of race and ethnicity, and his
major role in the establishment of two institutions devoted to the arts
of ethnically diverse and diasporic communities, the Institute of
International Visual Arts (Iniva) and Autograph ABP were also
‘political’ in his own broad understanding of this term. One of the
main purposes of his writing from its beginnings was to extend the
meaning of ‘the political’ outwards, in doing so drawing on intellec-
tual resources and interests which others might not recognise as
‘political’ at all.
Stuart Hall describes himself as having been compelled to see
the world in ‘political’ ways almost from his early childhood. Being
identifi ed within his Jamaican middle class home as the darkest
of his parents’ three children was, he has said, his fi rst formative
experience, since in that colour-coded world to be the darkest was by
no means to be perceived as the most favoured. Th us one could say
that Hall felt marginal from his very beginnings, a sense of himself
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