Dr Claudette Carr pays homage to the man known as the “godfather of multiculturalism”, a leading intellectual, sociologist and cultural theorist who influenced academic, political and cultural debate in Britain for over six decades.

Stuart Hall_photo

Turn your head violently towards things as they exist. ~Antonio Gramsci 

Jamaican-born Stuart Hall was professor of sociology at the Open University from 1979 to 1997, topping off an academic career that began as a research fellow in Britain’s first centre for cultural studies, set up by Richard Hoggart at the University of Birmingham in 1964. Hall would later lead the centre and was seen as a key figure in the development of cultural studies as an academic discipline.

His impact was felt far outside the realms of academia, however. His writing on race, gender, sexuality and identity, and the links between racial prejudice and the media in the 1970s, was considered groundbreaking. Many consider him a hero and in this moving poem, Dr Carr, remembers his legacy:

 

You who disarmed frail old white ladies

of their Enochian enthused dread

Modfather of multiculturalism, moral panics, and

mugging mania – you re-read

waging a war on totality

turning Little Englanders

and notions of blackness on their head(s)

 

You who gave us New Ethnicities

a new catechism: Raciology Blues

taming mighty tempestuos storms –

Powell’s pernicious incantations of Rivers of Blood

with the precision of an archers arrow

you deconstructed Thatcher’s flood

the tainted nationalism of the red, white, and blue

your ferocious style intellect

reimagining a postcolonial geo-body

every nuance, every hue

You — an open-subject

High-bred son of Jamaica

for indeed it is true: out of one comes many

 

You who reinvigorated Left Melanin-Cholia

and remade socialism differentialist red

with hymnals exhorting Gramsci’s Optimise The Will

Perhaps your sad passing will make

organic intellectuals of us all still?

 

You who in this moment

In this conjuncture like a floating signifier stood

your hybridized cipher

in lieu of some greater good

pondering the marginalized with your worldly tools

stones/outcasts, the imperialist builders refused

 

To think ourselves into becoming anew

 

You who like an indefatigable Master of Midrash

destabilising meta-narratives, provoking us to ask:

 

Ukeshe ani leatzmi ma ani

Ve’im lo aschav eimatai

 

If I am not for myself

who is for me?

But if I am only for myself,

What am I?

And if not now then when?

 

Circuitous Changing Same 

yet to claim new names…

But You, Stuart Hall

who in academia’s hallowed halls –

Genteel Maroon; a BBC Mellifluous tune –

with your sonorous texts

of identity and its suturing effects

irrefutably, essentially

remain the quintessential Black Subject.

_____________________

Source: Copyright 2014, Dr Claudette Carr.
About Dr Carr:

Dr Carr is the founding Director of the Jethro Institute for Good Governance (JIGG), and has over seventeen years experience lecturing in International and Community Development, Youth & Community Work, Social Work, and Social Policy, at Brunel, Birbeck, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland) and the University of Westminster. Alongside Lucerne colleagues, as Principal Lecturer, Claudette  co-ordinated the programme for the MA in International Community Development.    As the London Course leader, she successfully facilitated the Summer School in International Community Development at Westminster. In Partnership with J!GG, The Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee, and the University of Westminster, Claudette has set up and secured funding for the Sylvia Pankhurst Scholarship for Ethiopian girls, and the Dr John Garang Scholarship for South Sudan starting in September 2012.

She holds a PhD in education and degrees in social science and applied anthropology from Goldsmiths College, and is also JNC qualified in youth and community work. Her research interest include Community politics and new social movements; black and ethnic self-organisation in the UK and Diaspora; the emergence of vernacular histories and indigenous knowledge(s) and their impact on the assertion of ethnic identity.  Her PhD thesis looked at ‘How Black History is constructed and represented in different sites of education’.Claudette is currently researching ‘Diaspora Organisations in the Horn of Africa and their role in community Governance (Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia)’. She is the co-author of an open letter to the Swedish Minister of Culture, that address the recent Swedish Racist Cake controversy, and recently partcipated in the conversation- ‘Racism is No Joke A Swedish Minister and a Hottentot Venus Cake’, which will be published in a forthcoming anthology, Afro-Nordic Landscapes: Equality and Race in Northern Europe (Routledge, 2012), edited by Michael McEachrane and with a foreword by Professor Paul Gilroy. Dr Carr writes and blogs regularly and her work can be found here: http://jethroinstitute.dinstudio.com.

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4 Responses

  1. Enock Moturi

    Deep reflection Dr. Carr, I have liked this poem about Stuart Hall

    Reply

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