Stuart Hall Library
15.00 - 17.00.
Free, booking essential.
The Commonwealth Games Federation claims that it is ‘Uniting the Commonwealth Federation through Sport’. Whilst the relevance, legacy and leadership of the Commonwealth is hotly debated in light of its colonial roots, sport continues to divide and unite audiences under disputed concepts of shared nationhood and cultural heritage.
Join us for a reading group focusing on the chapters ‘The Light and the Dark’ from C.L.R. James’ book Beyond a Boundary and ‘England at Home’ from Stuart Hall’s memoir Familiar Stranger. All texts are read together in the group, you don’t need to read them in advance.
In ‘The Light and the Dark’ James discusses his early career as a cricketer in the colonial West-Indies:
As clearly as if it was written across the sky, their play said: Here, on the cricket field if nowhere else, all men in the island are equal, and we are the best men on the island.
In ‘England at Home’, Stuart Hall discusses ‘Englishness’, sport and national identities as a Jamaican who lived most of his life in the UK:
Half of ‘Team GB’ was non-white, and only in the most complex way English. I’m told the people of Somalia think that, despite being draped in a Union Jack, the incomparable Mo Farah, with his hands pointing at his bald head as if to say ‘Look what people like me can do!’, was running for them, and in a metaphorical sense he was.
C.L.R. James (1901-1989) was a Trinidadian historian and political activist who was also based in the US and the UK. His writings were influential on postcolonial discourse, and he was a well-known proponent of socialism and Pan-Africanism. He was also a keen and talented cricketer, and wrote extensively about the game.
Stuart Hall (1932-2014) was an influential cultural theorist who was born in Jamaica, but spent much of his life in the UK. He was one of the founding figures of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies and the founder of the influential ‘New Left Review’. Until 2008 he was chair of Iniva and Autograph ABP.
This reading group is free and open to all.