Stuart Hall's Cultural Identity and Diaspora

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Ouahani Nasr-edine
A Paper about Stuart Hall’s article:

Cultural Identity and Diaspora

Stuart hall talks about the crucial role of the “Third Cinemas” in promoting the Afro-Caribbean cultural identities, the Diaspora hybridity and difference. Hall argues that the role of the “Third Cinemas” is not simply to reflect what is already there; rather, their crucial role is to produce representations which constantly constitute the third world’s peoples as new subjects against their representations in the Western dominant regimes. Their vocation is to allow us to see and recognize the different parts and histories of ourselves. They should provide us with new positions from which to speak about ourselves. Stuart Hall provides an analysis of cultural identities and what they stand for, their workings and underlying complexities and practices. Hall argues that cultural identities are never fixed or complete in any sense. They are not accomplished, already-there entities which are represented or projected through the new cultural practices. Rather, they are productions which cannot exist outside the work of representation. They are problematic, highly contested sites and processes. Identities are social and cultural formations and constructions essentially subject to the differences of time and place. Then, when we speak of anything, as subjects, we are essentially positioned in time and space and more importantly in a certain culture. These subject positions are what Hall calls “the positions of enunciation” (222). Hall talks about cultural identity from two different, but related, perspectives. First, he discusses cultural identity as a unifying element or as the shared cultural practices that hold a certain group of people together and second, he argues that as well as there are similarities, there are also differences within cultural identities. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss these two sides of cultural identities. In the first sense, cultural identity is held to be the historical cultural practices that held to be common among a group of people; it is what differentiates them from other groups and held them as of one origin, one common destiny. In this sense, cultural identity refers to those cultural codes which are held to be unchangeable, fixed true practices. This underlying “oneness” or “one true self” is the essence, Hall argues, of “Carribeaness”, of the black Diaspora. It is this identity which should be discovered by the black Diaspora and subsequently, should be excavated and projected through the representations of the “Third Cinemas”. Here we would add that this collective identity is not only to be represented by the “Third Cinemas” but also by The Third Literature and through The Third Academia. It is this sense of cultural identity which plays a critical role in eliciting a lot of postcolonial struggles. The act of discovering such identity is at the same time an act of re-shaping and rehabilitating, of re-claiming “the true self”. It is an act which goes beyond “the misery of today” to recover and reconstruct what colonization have distorted. Imaginative rediscovery plays a crucial role in restoring such identity. The emergence of counter discourses (like feminist discourse, anti-racist discourse, anti-colonial discourse and so on) which tries to highlight and bring to the forth the “hidden histories” are an outcome of the creative force of such sense of cultural identity. Hall gives the example of Armet Francis photographs about the peoples from the “Black Triangle” which is considered as a visual attempt, an act of imaginary reunification of blacks which have been dispersed and fragmented across the African Diaspora. Another universal unifying element of blacks is the Jazz music. It is an attempt to restore the black agent to his home “Africa”, to relocate him, symbolically, within his true essence: “Africanness”. Such counter discourses are resources of resistance which problematizes the...
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