131. Mixed Messages: Black British Cultural Studies

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Stuart Hall pioneers “cultural studies,” offering tools for analysis of films, television, fiction and music that were put to use by followers like Paul Gilroy and Hazel Carby.

Thanks to Glenn Adamson for his feedback on this episode!



Further Reading

• H.A. Baker Jr., M. Diawara, and R.H. Lindeborg (eds), Black British Cultural Studies: a Reader (Chicago: 1996).

• H.V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: the Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (Oxford: 1987).

• H.V. Carby, Race Men (Cambridge MA: 1998).

• P. Gilroy, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (London: 2002, first published 1987).

• P. Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: 1993).

• S. Hall, Familiar Stranger: a Life Between Two Islands (Durham: 2017).

• S. Hall, Essential Essays, ed. D. Morley, 2 vols (Durham: 2019).

• P. Gilroy and R. Wilson Gilmore (eds), Stuart Hall: Selected Writings on Race and Difference (Durham: 2021).


• D. Dworkin, Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain: History, the New Left, and the Origins of Cultural Studies (Durham: 1997).

• L. Evans, “The Black Atlantic: Exploring Gilroy’s Legacy,” Atlantic Studies 6 (2009), 255-68.

• P. Gilroy et al (eds), Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall (London: 2000).

• J. Procter, Stuart Hall (London: 2004).

• D. Morley and K. Chen (eds), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (London: 1996).

• C. Rojek, Stuart Hall (Cambridge: 200§). 

• R. Rutledge Fisher and J. Garcia (eds), Retrieving the Human: Reading Paul Gilroy (Albany: 2014).

• D. Scott, Stuart Hall's Voice: Intimations of an Ethics of Receptive Generosity (Durham: 2017).

• D. Singh Brar and A. Sharma, “What is this ‘Black’ in Black Studies? From Black British Cultural Studies to Black Critical Thought in UK Arts and Higher Education,” New Formations 99 (2020), 88-109.

• G. Turner, British Cultural Studies: an Introduction (London: 1990).


Jorge Herrera on 25 September 2023

Missing episode

Please post episode 131. Thank you

In reply to by Jorge Herrera

Peter Adamson on 25 September 2023


Oops thanks for noticing that! This one is misnumbered, I will fix it.

Kamran Rahman on 9 October 2023

Stuart Hall

In episode 131 "Mixed Messages: Black British Cultural Studies", you refer to Hall's 1973 essay "Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse", and then say it is a “It is wrong-headed to imagine that we will ever discover who we really are” because we are always renegotiating our relationships with others, always trying out ways of belonging to or opposing cultural social and political groups. So, as Hall says about the quest to arrive at the true self, this arrival never occurs. We’ll never be ourselves, whatever that means."

No such sentiment appears in that 1973 essay, but I did find something along those lines in his later essay "Old and New Identities". Can you please clarify whether you were paraphrasing from this essay, or another one? Many thanks                          

In reply to by Kamran Rahman

Peter Adamson on 9 October 2023

Hall citation

Yes you're right - this will be clearer in the book version because we have footnotes and in text citations; making every source clear in an audio podcast isn't really possible. The quotation about "we'll never be ourselves" is actually from his autobiography.

Ellie R on 25 November 2023


Can you please post a transcription of the episode, please?

In reply to by Ellie R

Peter Adamson on 26 November 2023


Actually we only do transcriptions for the interviews (we need to catch up on the recent ones actually). The scripted episodes appear as the book series though! If you are interested in just this one script I'd be happy to email it to you though? Just contact me at peter.adamson@lrz.uni-muenchen.de 

G. Tarun on 21 January 2024


Should society/culture/context/overview be a theme? Rather than specific topics such as race or gender, this theme could include the intro/overview episodes for various series and sub-series, and perhaps episodes like this one.

In reply to by G. Tarun

Peter Adamson on 21 January 2024


Yeah I actually had thought about that too, whether I should have a theme to group together all the episodes that are about historical context (I think "culture" might be too broad, would be hard to know what to put in it). But on the other hand these are pretty easy to find since they pretty much come at the start of each mini-series?

In reply to by Peter Adamson

G. Tarun on 21 January 2024


Agreed on both—"culture" is too broad. But even if the context episodes are easy to find, it's still helpful to include them all in a theme called "Context" or "Overview episodes"? (Or "Historical Context and Overviews")? Because it helps listeners find all such episodes in one place, and is useful even in teaching contexts (e.g. overview of major traditions)?

In reply to by G. Tarun

Peter Adamson on 21 January 2024

Context theme

Yes, true. Ok I will do that when I get a chance! Maybe remind me if you don't see it within a few days...

In reply to by Peter Adamson

G. Tarun on 11 April 2024

Order of Themes

I'm curious if there's an order of listing the themes: they're not in alphabetical order, so I was wondering if it's helpful to sort them that way, or by areas of philosophy, etc.

(Also a very gentle reminder to include the context/overview theme whenever possible. Would be helpful esp after more China and Europe sections are released.)

In reply to by G. Tarun

Peter Adamson on 12 April 2024


Oh right, thanks for the reminder on the general overviews, I should indeed add that. And yes you’re right, I’ll see about getting the Themes to appear alphabetically.

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