Stuart Hall's Cultural Identification and Diaspora

 Stuart Hall’s Cultural Id and Diaspora Essay

Richard L. Watts. Clarke LITS3304 Notes 12B


STUART HALL " CULTURAL PERSONALITY AND DIASPORA” (1993) Hall, Stuart. " Cultural Identification and Diaspora. ” Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory: a Target audience. Ed. Patrick Williams and Chrisman. London, uk: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994. 392-401. In this dissertation, Hall looks at the nature of the " dark-colored subject” (392) who is displayed by " film and also other forms of visible representation of the Afro-Caribbean (and Asian) ‘blacks' of the diasporas of the West” (392). " Who is this kind of emergent, new subject in the cinema? By where really does he/she speak? ” (392). Referring to the seminal function of Émile Benveniste (signalled by the gesture towards " enunication” [392]), he contends that what recent theories of affirmation suggest is the fact, though we speak, to say ‘in our own name', of yourself and from our own encounter, nevertheless who have speaks, plus the subject who is spoken of, are never identical, never precisely in the same place. (392) Hall's thesis is that rather than thinking of identification as an " previously accomplished fact, that this new cultural practices then represent” (392), we should think instead of " identity as a ‘production' which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not really outside, representation” (392). Lounge points out that you have two primary ways of contemplating (cultural) identity. The traditional model views personality in terms of a single, shared tradition, a sort of collective ‘one authentic self', covering inside the various other, more superficial or synthetically imposed ‘selves', which individuals with a shared history and origins hold in accordance.... This ‘oneness', underlying all of those other, more " light " differences, is a truth, the essence of ‘Caribbeanness', from the black encounter. It is this identity which will a Caribbean or black diaspora need to discover, excavate, bring to lumination and communicate.... (393) Hall acknowledges the " rediscovery of this identification is often the object of what Frantz Fanon once called a ‘passionate research'” (393) which such a " conception of ethnical identity played out a crucial part in all post-colonial struggles” (393). However , he questions whether such some merely requires " unearthing that which the colonial encounter buried and overlaid” (393). For him, it is better to envision a " quite different practice” (393), one particular based on " not the rediscovery however the production of identity. No identity grounded in the archaeology, but in the re-telling of the past” (393). Such a viewpoint could entail recognizing that this can be an " act of imaginative rediscovery” (393), one which involves " imposing a great imaginary coherence on the experience of dispersal and fragmentation, which is the history coming from all enforced diasporas” (394) and leads to the restoration of your " fictional fullness or plentitude, setting against the broken rubric of your past” (394). Africa, he stresses, is the " identity of the missing term, the fantastic aporia, which in turn lies with the centre of our cultural id and gives that a which means which, right up until recently, that lacked” (394). The second type of (cultural) id (which Corridor favours) acknowledges the " critical points of deep and significant difference which will constitute ‘what we really are'; or rather--since history has intervened--'what we now have become'” (394). From this point of view, ethnical identity is actually a matter of ‘becoming' as well as of ‘being'. It belongs to the upcoming as much as for the past. Not necessarily something which currently exists, transcending place, time, history and traditions. Cultural identities come from someplace, have reputations. But just like everything which can be historical, that they undergo frequent transformation. Just not eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they can be subject to

Rich L. W. Clarke LITS3304 Notes 12B


the continuous ‘play' of history, lifestyle and power. Far from being grounded in mere ‘recovery' of the previous, which is waiting to be found, and which the moment found, is going to secure the sense of...