Stuart McPhail Hall,(3
February 1932 – 10
February 2014) was a
theorist and sociologist.
Widely known as
Stuart Hall begins his discussion on Cultural Identity
and Diaspora with a discussion on the emerging New
Cinema in the Caribbean which is known as Third
This new form of cinema is considered as the visual
representation of the Afro-Caribbean subjects –
“ blacks” of the diasporas of the West- the new post
Using this discussion as a starting point Hall
addresses the issues of identity, cultural practices and
Cutural Identity and Diaspora:
Hall enunciates two different ways of thinking
about cultural identity. The first one defines
cultural identity in terms of ‘one shared
A Caribbean or black diaspora must discover,
excavate, bring to light and express through
cinematic representation, this identity
This understanding did play a crucial role in
the Negritude movements.
The second point that Hall points out is the
related but different view of cultural identity.
This is an identity understood as unstable,
metamorphic and even contradictory which
signifies an identity marked by multiple points
of similarities as well as differences.
Africans at the angle of “ what they are” and
“ what they have become.”
These writers of African diaspora have come
out with “ one experience and ‘identity,’ along
the other side, that is ‘ the ruptures and
discontinuities which form the essence of
Cultural identity is a matter of ‘becoming’ as
well as of ‘being.’
Cultural identities come from somewhere,
have histories, yet they undergo constant
Hall elaborates the meaning of colonial experience
through his second point.
The westerners had the power to make us see and
experience through ourselves as ‘Other.’ Cultural
identity is not a fixed essence. It has its histories and
the past continuous to speak to us. It is always
constructed through memory, fantasy, narrative,
From the second point Hall confirms that one can
understand the traumatic character of the “colonial
Hall brings in the theory of Derrida to
understand the difficulty of blacks to imitate
the western style.
Derrida’s use of the word ‘differences’ offers a
couple of meanings. Hall interprets it saying,
meaning of a word is never finished or
completed, but keeps on moving to encompass
other, additional or supplementary meanings.
Hall enumerates the repositioning of
Caribbean cultural identities in relation to at
least three presence- ‘ Presence Africanne’,
‘Presence Europeenne’, and ‘Presence
Only in 1970’s this Afro-Caribbean identity
became historically available to Jamaican
‘Presence Africane’ is an origin of the
displaced Africans identities.
The original Africa is no longer there. Hall pleads
for restoration of Africa of all its pristine values
by all especially by the Caribbeans.
Hall finds a delicate difference between Africa
and Europe. ‘ Where Africa was a case of the
unspoken, Europe was a case of hat which is
In terms of colonialism,
underdevelopment, poverty and the
racism of color, the European presence is
that which, invisible representation, has
positioned the black subject within its
dominant regimes of representations.
‘Presence Europeenne’ is about
exclusion, imposition and expropriation and
therefore that power is considered as wholly
external to the displaced African writers. They
have to face the dominating European
The New World is the third term- where the
fatal encounter was staged between Africa and
‘ Presence Americaine’ continues to
have its silence, its suppressions.
Diaspora are those, which are constantly
producing and reproducing themselves a new.
Thorough transformation and differences.
Hall brings he readers attention to the
inevitable fact that the ‘uniqueness’ of
Caribbean is the mixes of colors, pigmentation
and also the blends of tastes that is Caribbean.
In the newly emerging cinemas of the
Caribbean islands, one has to apply a new
relationship of the past, thus bringing together
a new relationship of the past and a new
The modern black cinemas, according to Hall,
reflect and recognize the different parts and
histories of theirselves, thus constructing the
points of identification of their cultural