What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought

What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought

What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought

What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought

Synopsis

Antiblack racism avows reason is white while emotion, and thus supposedly unreason, is black. Challenging academic adherence to this notion, Lewis R. Gordon offers a portrait of Martinican-turned-Algerian revolutionary psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon as an exemplar of "living thought" against forms of reason marked by colonialism and racism. Working from his own translations of the original French texts, Gordon critically engages everything in Fanon from dialectics, ethics, existentialism, and humanism to philosophical anthropology, phenomenology, and political theory as well as psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

Gordon takes into account scholars from across the Global South to address controversies around Fanon's writings on gender and sexuality as well as political violence and the social underclass. In doing so, he confronts the replication of a colonial and racist geography of reason, allowing theorists from the Global South to emerge as interlocutors alongside northern ones in a move that exemplifies what, Gordon argues, Fanon represented in his plea to establish newer and healthier human relationships beyond colonial paradigms.

Excerpt

More than fifty years after his death, Frantz Fanon still ignites violent passions. This “outlaw thinker,” as Lewis Gordon calls him, has become an object either of worship or a mixture of hatred and fear, especially in France, where he is not yet completely accepted as an author legitimately to be read and discussed in academic circles. Leftists do quote him or, more often, mention his name, but they rarely do so with any proper knowledge of his works. In their minds he plays the role of a francophone Che Guevara, an antiracist, anticolonialist advocate of an old-fashioned third-worldist and antimondialist politics. For others, he represents nothing but a past revolutionary theory that apologizes for violence and is, because of that, unacceptable in a world where only the powerful can overtly use (extreme) violence and be highly praised. Che Guevara could have been rejected for the same reasons. But it is not the case. There is a romantic representation of Che who, in some way, became a sort of popular hero, represented on posters in teenagers’ rooms or on mugs and T-shirts, but whom nearly nobody reads anymore. Both were doctors; both were deeply involved in revolutionary movements; both died very young and attractive in tragic circumstances where the CIA probably took an active part. But one of them was, notwithstanding his youth, one of the most original thinkers of his century, maybe the most original thinker—a sort of Mozart of thought, and he was black. Of course, I am speaking of Fanon.

Gordon reminds us that the hegemonic view is that theory is supposed to be left to white theorists (I shall add: better if they are male). Blacks are . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.