Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough.
—Jose Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia
When Stuart Hall moved to Oxford from Jamaica in 1951 he arrived em-
bodying a telling mélange of influences, investments, and curiosities. He
had come from a family in Kingston that cherished its colonial- identified,
bourgeois affectations. He had, accordingly, attended one of the most
prominent boys’ high schools in the country, Jamaica College, and studied
an educational program modeled on that of British public schools among
schoolmates that included Michael Manley (political scion and the coun-
try’s future prime minister). Yet the early 1930s saw the start of labor unrest
that would presage the region’s self- governance and independence move-
ments. In a lengthy interview with the British historian Bill Schwartz, Hall
remembers the feeling of momentousness in those days.1 He recalls that
the colonial engine of the prestige school system was beginning to cede
some small ground to an awareness of the particular history, culture, and
politics of Jamaica. Some of the more progressive teachers taught from
slim pamphlets on Caribbean culture, supplementing the official British
and European curriculum. Hall himself sought out works not offered at
school in the newly opened Institute of Jamaica.
Hall arrived at Oxford, then, steeped in classic texts of the English lit-
erary canon, suffused with a dawning sense of the rightness of West Indian
independence movements, and inspired, too, by emblems of modernism—
strikingly, by jazz. He had listened to American radio stations and swapped
bebop records with close high school friends in Kingston.2 He had learned
about big band music from his brother. Through this music Hall remembers
.
Introduction
.
THE QUEER ELSEWHERE OF BLACK DIASPORA
Previous Page Next Page