Stuart Hall, who was at Merton in the 1950s, was one of the founding figures in cultural studies. Shortly after his death, the College set up a scholarship in his honour, which is currently held by Ruth Ramsden-Karelse (2017). Postmaster spoke to Ruth to find out about her research and how it ties in with Hall’s legacy.
Stuart Hall (1951) was an academic, writer and pioneer of cultural studies. Born in 1932 in Kingston, Jamaica, he came to the UK in 1951 as a Rhodes Scholar, to study English at Merton. After his BA, he started a DPhil, but the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Suez Crisis prompted him to leave the world of Henry James and to focus instead on his political work.
Hall became a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was founding editor of the New Left Review, and then joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, of which he became director in 1968. He was also Professor of Sociology at the Open University. As well as his writings on politics and culture, he is best known for his wide-ranging contribution to the then emerging field of cultural studies, covering elements such as identity, race and ethnicity.
Hall died in February 2014; shortly afterwards, the Stuart Hall Foundation was launched, specifically to provide opportunities for students and academics pursuing themes in line with his work. Merton College, in partnership with TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities), has funded one of these scholarships.