Category Archives: Music

Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall passed away yesterday.  Matthew Hilton and Kieran Connell have written a thoughtful obituary about Hall and his contribution to Birmingham, particularly in shaping the Centre for Cultural Studies. The fiftieth anniversary of the Centre is being commemorated at Birmingham this year.

The Stuart Hall Project will be screened at the University on the 20th of March. It’s a visual feast that draws on a wealth of old BBC archival footage, from Hall’s visits back to the Caribbean, various interviews, and news footage of race riots and the Thatcher era. Hall’s experiences of growing up in Jamaica in a mixed family, his arrival at Oxford and his involvement the New Left are at the centre of the story. This is a life that both spans and intensely reflects on imperial and post-colonial Britain. His taste in music (Miles Davis especially) also comes out beautifully in the film, as it does in this highly recommended Desert Island Discs podcast.

When I was an undergraduate studying at a North American liberal arts college in the late nineties, the influence of Cultural Studies was deeply embedded in the curriculum. Hall’s ideas had particular resonance for me. Although he was speaking mainly from his own experiences of a post-colonial Britain struggling with its own multiculturalism, I found in his work an eloquent articulation of the politics of belonging in all societies that have become increasingly global. The words below spoke to the multicultural Canada in which I grew up as well as the historically cosmopolitan Asian port-cities I started studying as a graduate student. To a social historian of cities and globalization, they still seem fresh:

“In a world of constant movement, both forced and free, both at the centre and the periphery of the global system, communities and societies are increasingly multiple in their nature. They are composed of communities with different origins, drawing on different traditions, coming from different places, obliged to make a life together within the confines still of a fixed territorial boundary or space while acknowledging that they are making a common life, not living a form of apartheid of separatism. They want, nevertheless, to retain in some sense the distinctiveness of their historical roots in the place in which they have ended up”.



Week 11—no seminar

Our seminar this week is cancelled owing to ill health. Instead, here are the Coasters, with Shoppin’ for clothes (1960).


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Maori remains

An announcement about an event on campus later in the week. Please contact June Jones for further information, not the Centre. Her email address is below.

Maori carved house post from Tanenuiarangi meeting house, Waipapa marae, University of AucklandThe University is pleased to be returning a collection of Maori human remains to representatives of the New Zealand Museum Te Papa in October 2013. As part of their visit, we are delighted to invite you to the following events:

The importance of returning Mäori remains to their homelands in Aotearoa New Zealand

Our Maori guests will explain the importance of returning human remains and Maori cultural objects. They will detail the research that has been taking place in New Zealand about how remains were collected for transport throughout Europe, and how remains are dealt with on their return. This will be a very moving seminar, and relevant for anyone interested in colonial history, repatriation work and ways in which minority groups can be honoured. The seminar is free, open to all members of the University and members of the public. No need to book, so please just come along and bring friends.

Venue: Arthur Thomson Lecture Theatre, Medical School.
Date: Thursday 17 October 2013.
Time: 4-5pm

A unique opportunity to hear Maori music and song!

After the repatriation seminar, we will be moving on to the newly opened Bramall Music Building.
Maori elders will be giving a presentation about
•         traditional Maori waiata (chants and songs)
•         musical instruments including the putatara (conch shell trumpet),
•         koauau and Nguru (two types of Maori flutes).

They will play the instruments and also sing examples of their waiata (chants and songs), which will form part of a formal handover ceremony of ancient Maori remains the following day.
This informal presentation will be a must for anyone interested in ancient forms of music, traditional native cultures and the richness of diverse inheritance. Come along to hear and meet our Maori guests.

This is a free event, open to members of the University and members of the public.

Venue: Foyer, Bramall Music building
Date: Thursday 17 October, 2013
Time: 5.30-6pm

For any further information, please contact Dr June Jones on

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The power of music

Sun Ra, 1980

[Jazz pianist Sun] Ra’s solo keyboard track, “Advice to Medics,” [is] titled after his history of playing for what his biographer John Szwed describes as a therapy-through-music group that “included catatonics and severe schizophrenics.” (The biographer reports that one patient, breaking a years-long silence, approached Ra to ask: “Do you call that music?”)

From a post on the New York Review of Books blog by Seth Colter Walls, on a recent performance by the Sun Ra Arkestra at Lincoln Center in New York. If you want to decide for yourself if it’s music, there are several pieces embedded there for you to listen to.

Click image for source

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