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This extraordinary book tells us something of how Stuart Hall, this remarkable thinker, teacher, and theorist of a renewed Left, came to be. We see how his exceptional ability to weave together politics, history, depth psychology, and cultural identity is rooted in the never fully resolved displacements, tensions, and conflicts of his life. This work, fascinating and engaging as the story of his early life, is also immensely instructive as an account of an evolving theory, wide and many-facetted, capable of doing something like full justice to the important changes of our time.
"Sometimes I feel myself to have been the last colonial." This, in his own words, is the extraordinary story of the life and career of Stuart Hall--how his experiences shaped his intellectual, political, and theoretical work and how he became one of his age's brightest intellectual lights.

Growing up in a middle-class family in 1930s Kingston, Jamaica, still then a British colony, the young Stuart Hall found himself uncomfortable in his own home. He lived among Kingston's stiflingly respectable brown middle class, who, in their habits and ambitions, measured themselves against the white elite. As colonial rule was challenged, things began to change in Kingston and across the world. In 1951 a Rhodes scholarship took Hall across the Atlantic to Oxford University, where he met young Jamaicans from all walks of life, as well as writers and thinkers from across the Caribbean, including V. S. Naipaul and George Lamming. While at Oxford he met Raymond Williams, Charles Taylor, and other leading intellectuals, with whom he helped found the intellectual and political movement known as the New Left. With the emotional aftershock of colonialism still pulsing through him, Hall faced a new struggle: that of building a home, a life, and an identity in a postwar England so rife with racism that it could barely recognize his humanity.

With great insight, compassion, and wit, Hall tells the story of his early life, taking readers on a journey through the sights, smells, and streets of 1930s Kingston while reflecting on the thorny politics of 1950s and 1960s Britain. Full of passion and wisdom, Familiar Stranger is the intellectual memoir of one of our greatest minds.

"The publication of Familiar Stranger is truly an event. Contemplative and incisive, heart-wrenching and hilarious, profound and thought-provoking, the book demonstrates why Stuart Hall was our most brilliant thinker on identity and struggle, and why in the age of Brexit and Trumpism he is sorely missed. He embodied a capacious understanding of race, nation, and diaspora, and drew on his own life to reveal the conjunctural relationships between structures of oppression and the spaces of possibility, between lived experience and modalities of power. For those unfamiliar with Hall, this book ought to be the starting point."

"Stuart Hall analyzes the complexities of migration that left all British Commonwealth citizens puzzled by the political character of the word Black in the recent construction: British Black. He argues that race, which was always there, meaning difference, is now given a surprising interpretation in the social relations that define all people who are not white. This is a miracle of a book constructed by different hands but carrying always the dominant critical signature of Stuart Hall."