Stuart Hall, one of Britain's leading intellectuals and cultural theorists, died this morning at age 82.
Hall was a fascinating figure: he was born in Jamaica and moved to England in 1951 with a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. He went on to become the founding editor of the New Left Review and established Britain's first Cultural Studies program in Birmingham in 1964. He was also a regular presence on BBC2 for nearly two decades.
Hall is known as much for his theories on culture and race as for his writings on politics. In a 1979 article in the journal Marxism Today, reports the Telegraph, he is even said to have coined the term "Thatcherism" — a term that would become widely used to describe the politics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
He championed gay rights and environmentalism, long before these causes had high-profile champions. And he is often referred to as "the godfather of multiculturalism" for his thinking on race. You can hear him speak about some of these issues in this interview (starting at the 5:53 mark):
Hall's influence was felt far beyond Britain. Many notable people took to Twitter today to comment on his legacy, including Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, who tweeted this:
The great Stuart Hall has passed. If a university taught you in the past 30 years how culture works, thank Dr. Hall, Jamaican.— Cameron Bailey (@cameron_tiff) February 10, 2014
Last year, the filmmaker John Akomfrah released a retrospective documentary, The Stuart Hall Project, to critical acclaim. Check out the trailer below (featuring a clip from a very young Michael Ignatieff):
And for further reading, try Jonathan Derbyshire's piece in the New Statesman looking back at Hall's work at age 80, from two years ago. There's also Hall's final article, published in April in The Guardian.