Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Connexus Theory and the Agonistic Binary of Coloniality Revisiting Fanon's Legacy

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Connexus Theory and the Agonistic Binary of Coloniality Revisiting Fanon's Legacy

Article excerpt

Constrained and conditioned by the "closures" of "system," we find ourselves "inside" a vast social-historical-economic construct we cannot escape, cannot get "outside" of. There are variations on this theme, as when the "outside" is not the interdicted place we long for in vain, but rather the exile into which our "ideology" has cast some excluded "other". The "outside" may not exist, perhaps "the other" is only by way of ideological distortion projected as "other," ever denied the status of "the same" ... Perhaps the "other" is by definition "beyond" the closure of "our" paradigms, and incorporable within them only through a "violence of the concept."--K.M Stokes

In a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.--Albert Camus

For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently.--Martin Luther King Jr.


The Fourth Annual Social Theory Forum is organized around the theme of the violence of colonialism and racism and how we can use the insight and legacy of Frantz Fanon to engage with the meaning and issues of human liberation. The key concern here then is the violence of spatial and mental colonialism and racism, and Fanon's take on the colonial relations of power.

The term "colonialism" comes from the Latin word colonia or colonus (settled land, farm, landed estate) and ultimately implies a blank space that can be cultivated or subjected to the designs of the "permanent settler." The usual colonial practice of "population transfer" is indicative of the sturdily installed designs of the colonial habitus. Population transfer is not simply about displacement, land theft, exploitation and reshuffling of people. It is also about the cultivation of epistemological, ontological and geo-historical hierarchy through the subalternization of the local histories of the colonized. This then lends dubious credence to the "universalization" of the settler's local history. I have for this reason avoided the use of that word "emancipation" since it is rooted in the univers de discours mythologies of European "permanent settler" Enlightenment which Fanon himself rejected and spent his life "abandoning."

The intensity of Fanon's cardinal quest to "abandon" Europe has attracted quite strong criticism from different stand points. Lewis R. Gordon, T. Denean Sharpley-whiting, and Renee T. white in their introduction to Fanon: a Critical Reader (1996) argue that the anger in Fanon must be contextualized. They see the vehemence in his writing and speeches as a product of the exigencies of the era in which Fanon lived. However, many of Fanon's other critics understood quite clearly that Fanon's vehemence was not simply directed at a synchronic manifestation of a diachronic reality. Most understood that what is at stake for Fanon was a cumulative "ingrained hierarchy of values" that is fundamentally Eurocentric. Angel Rama (1965; 1993) made a passionate case for a transcultural creole outlook by reproving Fanon insistence on African centred cultural autonomy. According to him

Frantz Fanon's cry, "Let's abandon Europe," is nothing but a sentence. It is impossible to abandon what is already ingrained in the creative personality of the Americas, in its mental structure and hierarchy of value.. .he asserts a non-proved desertion because, in the last analysis, he counts on the support of a non-European cultural tradition that he assumes radically: the black African. (ibid, p 61)

Rama's realpolitik insistence on the invincibility of imperial transformation is in itself characteristic of the universalizing myth of imperial self representation. Manoeuvring within the self referential loops of European Enlightenment and other such "ingrained" European local histories and cultural traditions is at the core of not only the image of Europe as "proved" but also Frantz Fanon's radical non-Eurocentrism. …

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