The winner of the 2024 Stuart Hall Essay Prize is Hashem Abushama, for the essay “a map without guarantees: Stuart Hall and Palestinian geographies”.

The winning essay was the unanimous selection of the judging panel made up of Catherine Hall, Jo Littler and Kennetta Hammond Perry. The judges said: “We found it to be a powerful, politically important and theoretically nuanced piece of work written in lyrical prose. As a ‘theoretical diary’ that combines memoir, ethnography photography and critical analysis, it took us directly to particular places, evoking the author’s personal experience growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp, carefully historicising the layers of colonial and settler colonialisms of this space, and theorising their relationships to different modes of capitalism. We appreciated the utilisation of Stuart Hall’s work alongside that of Doreen Massey and the mobilisation of Hall’s emphasis on the contingency of the conjuncture to indicate the political complexities of this ‘map without guarantees.’ It is a deeply moving piece that elicits an urgent reckoning with ongoing realities of violence of dispossession, but with an eye toward imagining more just futures.”

Reflecting on his experience writing the essay, Hashem Abushama stated: “Stuart Hall insisted that the task of critical theory is to produce a complex knowledge of the world, one that does not console but challenges and transforms. To Hall, knowledge production meant both the commitment to produce rigorous analysis and to refuse to turn dispassionate eyes to the political problems of our moment. Knowledge is about transformation, reparations, freedom, return. Hall made me see Palestine through a different lens: as a place of immense suffering and turmoil, but also of multi-layered and complex iterations of freedom and return. I learned with him that one simply cannot think and write critically about Palestine without centring freedom in its widest sense. It is to see Palestine as a map without guarantees, where settler colonialism is abolished and rehearsals of return cease to be rehearsals.”

The winner of the £2,000 prize was selected from a shortlist of four. The other shortlistees were:
Dee Cattle, “Stuart Hall, the Concept of Ideology and Thatcherism: Theorising with Political Teeth”
Katy Ensch, “Mitigating the Climate Crisis Within Our Current Conjuncture: Crucial Lessons from Stuart Hall”
Rory Weal, “Digging for Coal in the Garden of England: What Stuart Hall and the Kent Miners’ Strike can Teach us about the Place of Class 40 years on”

The judges commented on “Stuart Hall, the Concept of Ideology and Thatcherism” by Dee Cattle that “it was a well-structured essay with clear lines of argumentation related to the political utility of Stuart Hall’s conception of ideology past and present. We appreciated its critical engagement with theory and politics, its ability to contextualise Hall’s contribution to the study of ideology, and its succinct and lucid prose”. 

“Mitigating the Climate Crisis Within Our Current Conjuncture” by Katy Ensch is, the judges said, “a timely essay by which engages Stuart Hall’s ideas about capitalism, neoliberalism and the relationship between media and politics to think through how we might grapple with the urgency of climate change. We appreciated its range, scope and pertinence as well as its emphasis on celebrity, spectacle and common sense in its use of Stuart Hall’s work to consider the politics of the climate conjuncture.”

About “Digging for Coal in the Garden of England” by Rory Weal, the judges said: “We appreciated the emphasis on a return to the question of class, its focus on place and specificity. We welcomed its use of original oral histories from Kent to think, with Stuart Hall’s work, about the complexities of class in relation to gender and community, an important dimension of the miners’ strike, and the connections it drew to contemporary politics in Kent and beyond.”

A panel of trustees of the Stuart Hall Foundation was also involved in the judging process, and drew up the shortlist from which the winner was selected. Of the essays that were not shortlisted, the trustees said: “We were encouraged by the range of subjects covered by the submissions in this inaugural year of the Essay Prize, appropriately reflecting the breadth of Stuart Hall’s interests and influence. Entries included thought-provoking pieces on photography, film and journalism, and recent developments in social media and AI. Several authors wove personal experience into their themes, not least around race and identity. It was also heartening to see writers engaging with Hall’s ideas across a variety of academic disciplines.”

The winning essay is available to read on the Stuart Hall Foundation website here.

About the winner

Hashem Abushama is a Departmental Lecturer and Career Development Fellow at St John’s College and the School of Geography and the Environment (SoGE) at the University of Oxford. He is a human geographer with interests in urban studies, cultural studies, critical development studies, and postcolonial geographies. He holds a DPhil in Human Geography from the School of Geography and the Environment and an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, and a BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in the United States. His PhD dissertation won the runner up for the Leigh Douglas Memorial Award for the Best Dissertation in British Middle East Studies. His forthcoming monograph looks at settler colonialism, capitalism, dispossession, and arts in contemporary Palestine. His writings have appeared in Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugeesthe Jerusalem QuarterlyJadaliyya, and Palestine Square.

About the judges

Left to right: Catherine Hall, Jo Littler, Kennetta Hammond Perry

Catherine Hall is Emerita Professor of History and Chair of the Centre of the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at UCL. Her books include Civilising Subjects (2002) Macaulay and Son (2012), with others, Legacies of British Slave-ownership (2014) and Lucky Valley: Edward Long and the history of racial capitalism (2024).

Jo Littler is Professor of Culture, Media and Social Analysis at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her books include Left Feminisms (2023); with The Care Collective, The Care Manifesto (2020); Against Meritocracy (2018); Radical Consumption (2008);and, with Roshi Naidoo, The Politics of Heritage (2005).

Kennetta Hammond Perry is an associate professor in history at Northwestern University. Her research examines Black diasporic communities and political formations shaped by and within the imperial borderings of Britain. Her publications include London Is The Place For Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (2016).

The Stuart Hall Essay Prize is a new project of the Stuart Hall Foundation, funded by a private donation. Read more about the project here.

Stay connected

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest news, events and opportunities: