Beginning with the title itself, Stuart Hall’s Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands offers not merely a meditation on the cultural logic of dislocation but also a carefully articulated defense of that dislocation as a powerful antidote to the ugly and repressive forces of cultural and national identity. The emphasis here is on the space of the between: what it means to truly belong neither here nor there (Jamaica and England in Hall’s case), and how what might threaten to turn into a narrative of loss (exclusion, lack, homesickness, nostalgia, alienation, etc.) is gradually redeemed into a narrative that locates the value of the between as a site from which to contemplate the most compelling forms of intellectual and hence political freedom. There is a warning here, too: a warding away of the palpable dangers of identity politics and in particular...

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