How can we best describe the skills central to cultural studies’ practice? I will try to show that this is more than a matter for idle speculation. It is precisely reformulating cultural studies’ practice in terms of the general skills it involves (rather than particular objects of study with which it may have an affinity) that offers the best route to confronting the ethical and epistemological doubts that have beset social enquiry in the past two decades. I offer a pragmatic reformulation, and one of a particular kind, in which how we “speak about others” and how we “speak personally” are inextricably linked.