Hall: Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation

This famous article is on JSTOR so I am recycling the marked-up copy from 1989, when it came out. That was 33 years ago. The piece is old but it’s classic, and the points it makes, even though no longer new, still apply. Some things I liked in it back then:
– identity is not an essence but a positioning and it opens out toward the future
– it is created via same/other but also différance, deferment of meaning … but here Derrida isn’t helpful enough, since plauyfulness evacuates political meaning. Because meaning is the temporary and contingent stop in the semiotic chain
– Présence Africaine is the site of the repressed (74). Africa was silenced beyond memory by the power of the new cultures of slavery, but was present everywhere in, for instance, the secret syntactical structures through which other languages were spoken (75). It’s the signified that couldn’t be represented, and also the secret code with which every Western text was reread (here Hall is quoting another text of his, from 1976). It is the meaning constantly deferred to the future, and the NEW Africa that can be created in America.

In 1992 appeared Klor de Alva’s key article on postcolonialism as a (Latin) American mirage, too. I don’t consider that piece to be that out of date, either.


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