Cultural Identity and Diaspora

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Cultural Identity and Diaspora by Stuart Hall

About Stuart Hall

Cultural theorist and sociologist, Stuart Hall, was born on February 3, 1932. In Kingston, Jamaica, he was raised by his Jamaican family of African descent. There, he attended a primary school from the British primary school system. In 1951, Hall received his M.A. at Merton College at the University of Oxford. Many people who influenced him were Karl Marx, Raymond Williams, Michel Foucault, and Antonio Gramsci. In his lifetime, he has written many works about hegemony and cultural studies. From these works, Hall is known for his theory of encoding and decoding. According to his theory, the audience can have three different reactions: dominant reading, opposition reading, and negotiated reading. Today, Stuart Hall is married to a feminist professor, Catherine Hall, where they both reside in Ireland.

Relation between Hall and assigned readings

  • "Caroline's Wedding" in "Krik? Krak!" by Edwidge Danticat

In “Caroline’s Wedding”, the first and second-generation women are classified as being the same, yet different. They were all Haitian Americans, but they followed various cultural beliefs. Likewise to what Hall was saying, we “[e]ach negotiate our economic, political, and cultural dependency differently. And this ‘difference,’ whether we like it or not, is already inscribed in our cultural identities” (238).

  • "African" by Kevin Gaines

Similar to the keyword essay “African”, Hall states, in the 1970s, many Jamaicans considered themselves to be “black” since that term was associated with slavery. In the keyword, many blacks considered themselves to be “African” if they were ex-slaves or slaves.

  • "Reflections on Exile" by Edward Said

Some problems that Stuart Hall shares with Edward Said were about exile. Said states those who are exiled from society form a sense of nationalism with others. Similar to Said, Hall voices that those who experience slavery around the world, have feeling of “unification.”