File Name: frantz fanon black skin white masks the negro and recognition .zip
Black Skin, White Masks. Plot Summary. Psychological Oppression Knowledge vs.
Born on the island of Martinique under French colonial rule, Frantz Omar Fanon — was one of the most important writers in black Atlantic theory in an age of anti-colonial liberation struggle. His work drew on a wide array of poetry, psychology, philosophy, and political theory, and its influence across the global South has been wide, deep, and enduring.
Fanon engaged the fundamental issues of his day: language, affect, sexuality, gender, race and racism, religion, social formation, time, and many others. His impact was immediate upon arrival in Algeria, where in he was appointed to a position in psychiatry at Bilda-Joinville Hospital.
His participation in the Algerian revolutionary struggle shifted his thinking from theorizations of blackness to a wider, more ambitious theory of colonialism, anti-colonial struggle, and visions for a postcolonial culture and society. Fanon published in academic journals and revolutionary newspapers, translating his radical vision of anti-colonial struggle and decolonization for a variety of audiences and geographies, whether as a young academic in Paris, a member of the Algeria National Liberation Front FLN , Ambassador to Ghana for the Algerian provisional government, or revolutionary participant at conferences across Africa.
Following a diagnosis and short battle with leukemia, Fanon was transported to Bethesda, Maryland arranged by the U. Modest in length, the book is notable for its enormous ambition, seeking to understand the foundations of anti-Black racism in the deepest recesses of consciousness and the social world.
In fact, his focus shifts in the years following the publication of Black Skin, White Masks, moving away from blackness as a problem—perhaps the problem—of the modern world and toward a wider theory of the oppressed, colonialism, and revolutionary resistance to the reach of coloniality as a system. There is something about anti-blackness as treated in Black Skin, White Masks that is a concrete, uncomplicated distillation of coloniality as such.
In the end, Fanon is a unique thinker who blends personal narrative and political strategizing with heady social theory and numerous philosophical twists and turns. As well, Fanon offers a sketch of the relationship between ontology and sociological structures, asserting that the latter generate the former, which, in turn, lock subjectivities into their racial categories. The chapters that follow are in many ways a long, sustained argument for these assertions, venturing into questions of language, sexuality, embodiment, and dialectics.
The anti-Black world, the only world we know, hides this non-being to the extent that it ascribes a place and role to abject blackness. But the truth is the zone of non-being. In an interesting and crucial twist, Fanon, in the Introduction, does not describe descent into this zone as nihilism or despair. Descent into the zone of non-being produces this yes and its revolutionary power, revolutionary precisely because the anti-Black world cannot contain or sustain the affirmation of Black life as life, as being, as having a claim on the world.
Across the core chapters of Black Skin, White Masks , Fanon draws together the existential experience of racialized subjectivity and the calculative logic of colonial rule. For Fanon, and this is critically important, colonialism is a total project. It is a project that does not leave any part of the human person and its reality untouched.
This is no more evident than in the opening chapter to Black Skin, White Masks on language. The claim reflects in many ways the philosophical milieu of mid-century French and German philosophy, which in phenomenology, existentialism, and hermeneutics explore the very same claim—that language, subjectivity, and reality are entangled as a matter of essence, not confusion or indistinction.
But the colonial situation makes this all the more complicated. If speaking a language means participating in a world and adopting a civilization, then the language of the colonized, a language imposed by centuries of colonial domination and dedicated to the elimination or abjection of other expressive forms, speaks the world of the colonizer.
It is true that many Afro-Caribbeans speak pidgin and creole as part of everyday life. But Fanon, in a claim that does not age well in Caribbean theory, measures pidgin and creole expression against French, arguing that Afro-Caribbean speaking, in those registers, is a fallen, impoverished version of the metropolitan language and thus participates in inferiority. Caribbean theory from the s to the present has largely been dedicated to defending the legitimacy of creolized language and cultural forms, against Fanon and against colonial languages as the measure of being and knowing.
But there is no alternative for Fanon. In one of the most important moments of the book, Fanon discusses the problem of diction and racial embodiment. The black person can perfect speech, learn to speak perfect French and sound like a sophisticated Parisian. That might promise a certain kind of liberation from the alienation in and through mastery of proper French.
That is, if the black colonial learns to speak as well as the white Parisian, then perhaps there can be equal participation in language and its world. Yet, this is impossible because of what Fanon terms the epidermal character of race. To be black and speak with perfect diction is still to be black, and therefore marked as special, unique, and surprising.
There is no escape from the epidermal skin. Embodiment frames linguistic performance and limits its significance. The second and third chapters of Black Skin, White Masks theorize interracial sexuality, sexual desire, and the effects on racial identity. In that sense, all depictions of interracial sexuality exclusively heterosexual are for Fanon fundamentally pathological. The black woman who desires a white man suffers under the delusion that his body is a bridge to wealth and access.
The black man who desires a white woman suffers under the delusions of what her body offers: innocence and purity. The white body and Black desire for that body function much as language does in the opening chapter to Black Skin, White Masks : the passage to standing in the world, made impossible by the epidermal racial scheme, and therefore fated to alienation at every turn. And, thus, in each turn of the story, interracial desire is pathological, not because of the content of the characters and their desire, but because anti-Black colonialism is a total project that has infiltrated, modified, and calcified all aspects of the lifeworld.
Psychoanalysis, like his original readings of interracial relationships, provides Fanon a language for describing all the effects and affects on desire under anti-Black racism, and how gendered notions of power, embodiment, and selfhood are structured from the inside by the colonial practice of racism. What he uncovers in his critique and repurposing of psychoanalysis are new layers of pathology on the part of the colonizer, of course, but also of the colonized who cannot function as intact psyches.
As well, Fanon argues in some detail against the capacity of European psychoanalysis to understand the colonial situation. Blackness requires modifications in method, especially if that method is to open space for resistance, rebellion, and liberation. In that chapter, Fanon deploys the conceptual tools developed in previous chapters in order to debunk the remaining legacies of racial essentialism. The white gaze fixes blackness, making it with a slur and epidermal character, thus sealing blackness into itself.
Whereas the anti-Semite fears the Jew because of his alleged power and super-capacity, the anti-Black racist detests the Black person because of his alleged weakness and incapacity. That is, anti-Semitism reflects a panic about Jewish superiority, anti-Black racism reflects contempt for Black inferiority. That is no small accomplishment. Across these discussions, Fanon develops his notion of the inferiority complex, which is his subtle and important account of how anti-Black racism is internalized by Black people and how that internalization adds complexity to the pathologies of living under colonial rule.
At stake in the chapter is recognition—recognition of blackness, of subjectivity, and therefore of humanity. This is one of the most enigmatic ideas in Black Skin, White Masks. Fanon is deeply critical of dialectical thinking, while at the same time drawing deep, important lessons from it. In particular, Fanon is concerned with how a dialectics of recognition might simply mean elevation of the Black person to a sense of humanity created by and modeled on white people. The entirety of the text, of course, has been dedicated to disputing that move and offering alternative ways of thinking about the future.
So Fanon rejects the nascent, or sometimes explicit, conception of recognition that appeals to a pre-constructed idea of the human—suspicious, rightly, that such an idea is always racialized. And so too he is suspicious of any dialectical method that leaves a sense of measure intact—namely, a dialectical method that proceeds from a logic of recognition.
Fanon resists at every turn the desire for recognition if that recognition proceeds from an inevitably colonial sense of standard or measure. If those pre-existing forms of relation are destroyed, then a certain kind of revolution is possible, one in which the humanity of the colonized black person might emerge, on its own terms, for the first time.
What could blackness be after colonialism? The conclusion to Black Skin, White Masks follows through on this notion of futurity and a dialectics dedicated to the destruction of pre-existing forms of relation. Across the final pages, Fanon outlines a theory of history and memory that underpins his vision of Black liberation, including most prominently the notion that we are not bound to history, we are not slaves to the past, and therefore any kind of future is possible.
Fanon rejects the idea of reparations, for example, precisely because that idea would link Black people to the past in a crucial way and make that link inextricable from imagining justice. In place of the past, Fanon appeals to the openness and undetermined character of the future. What does Fanon want for black people? The man who questions has broken out of that trap. The effusive optimism and hope of the Conclusion aside, Black Skin, White Masks is an essentially pessimistic book.
That is, the book describes a psychological, linguistic, ontological, and libidinal landscape that is structured through and through by anti-Black racism. No desire or mode of being is left untouched.
In the immediate half-decade that follows the publication of Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon revisits key claims about anti-blackness and the possibilities of Black life that enrich, deepen, and widen his formulations in One of the questions that arises quite naturally from Black Skin, White Masks is how well, if at all, the concept of blackness developed therein travels across the Caribbean to the United States, or from the Caribbean to Africa.
This move is deeply connected to his time in Algeria, as we see below. The essay, delivered at one of the most important gatherings in the history of black Atlantic thought, the Congress of Negro Writers and Artists, de-links racism from the psyche and the interpersonal, lodging racism instead inside the very workings of culture. Fanon writes that racism. The social constellation, the cultural whole, is deeply modified by the existence of racism.
It is in some ways new, insofar as he gathers together the multi-faceted analysis and pessimism of Black Skin, White Masks and distills it all into a vision of race and culture. And like the conclusion to Black Skin, White Masks , and indeed most of his work, the vision is essentially apocalyptic. Which is to say, for Fanon the de-linking of racism and culture only comes at the moment that culture itself, as we have known it, becomes incomprehensible and we begin the work of assembling new cultural forms.
This insight is fully developed five years later in the central chapters of The Wretched of the Earth. Instead of a question of blackness, colonialism becomes for Fanon a larger, more general question of the oppressed in the global south.
Also, many of his most important writings in this period were published in French language newspapers across the continent of Africa, in particular the Algerian National Liberation Front FLN newspaper El Moudjahid for which he served on the editorial board , which hosts some of his most interesting reflections. The key anti-colonial insight in that text was how measure—the imperial function of whiteness in the Black psyche—structures the world. Liberation, in Black Skin, White Masks , looks a lot like displacing measure in the name of the questioning subject.
Liberation from measure means displacing the racialized idea of the human and initiating a movement toward, then into, a new humanism. The revolution in Algeria is a moment of decision for all Algerians, and pointedly so in the case of the European minority who had lived there for generations and at an elevated social and political status.
The default mode, of course, would be to associate the European minority with the colonizing power: France. But Fanon argues that this is not necessarily the case and that, in fact, revolutionary solidarity across racial-national lines is possible, even necessary and, through examples in the text, actually practiced. Algeria, then, is revealed to be as much an ideological category for identification with as it is a national, religious, or racial category.
The Wretched of the Earth will explore these possibilities even further as a blueprint for the colonized global South. The veil puzzles Fanon and challenges his deepest political commitment: postcoloniality means an embrace of the new. Revolution is absolute and radical, marking a break with the past rather than a return to a different version of the past. The future is the future, and so full of the unprecedented. What does that mean for traditions that have been suppressed by colonial rule, for example the veil in Islamic cultural practice?
But that is not the case with his treatment of Islamic traditions in Algeria and other parts of the Maghreb. This means tradition is still alive, not a mirage, and as alive also valued deeply by communities resisting colonial rule.
Such traditions can be instrumentalized for the sake of revolutionary action, only to be evaluated after colonialism for their suitability in a postcolonial nation and culture.
Revolutionary families, he argues, identify these fixed roles and break with them while also maintaining a conviction that their practices are Algerian—that is, Algerian in the new sense.
Born on the island of Martinique under French colonial rule, Frantz Omar Fanon — was one of the most important writers in black Atlantic theory in an age of anti-colonial liberation struggle. His work drew on a wide array of poetry, psychology, philosophy, and political theory, and its influence across the global South has been wide, deep, and enduring. Fanon engaged the fundamental issues of his day: language, affect, sexuality, gender, race and racism, religion, social formation, time, and many others. His impact was immediate upon arrival in Algeria, where in he was appointed to a position in psychiatry at Bilda-Joinville Hospital. His participation in the Algerian revolutionary struggle shifted his thinking from theorizations of blackness to a wider, more ambitious theory of colonialism, anti-colonial struggle, and visions for a postcolonial culture and society. Fanon published in academic journals and revolutionary newspapers, translating his radical vision of anti-colonial struggle and decolonization for a variety of audiences and geographies, whether as a young academic in Paris, a member of the Algeria National Liberation Front FLN , Ambassador to Ghana for the Algerian provisional government, or revolutionary participant at conferences across Africa.
PDF Version. It is too soon … or too late. Every human problem must be considered from the stand-point of time. In no fashion should I undertake to prepare the world that will come later. I belong irreducible to my time.
In Black Skin, White Masks — first published in — Frantz Fanon offers a potent philosophical, clinical, literary and political analysis of the deep effects of racism and colonialism on the experiences, lives, minds and relationships of black people and people of colour. Black Skin, White Masks - Frantz Fanon A psychological study of the effects of the concept of race and racism on black minorities in white majority societies. And that is as it should be. A major influence on civil rights, anti-colonial, and black consciousness movements around the world, Black Skin, White Masks is the unsurpassed study of the black psyche in a white world. Hailed for its scientific analysis and Reviews:. Sivanandan Foreword by Colin Prescod. Charles L.
the Negro of the Antilles, whoever he is, has always to face the 20 / Black. Skin, White Masks. Frantz Fanon / a friend or an recognition nor hate.
All it needs is one simple answer and the black question would lose all relevance. What does man want? What does the black man want?
The book is written in the style of auto-theory,  in which Fanon shares his own experiences while presenting a historical critique of the effects of racism and dehumanization, inherent in situations of colonial domination, on the human psyche. The violent overtones in Fanon can be broken down into two categories: The violence of the colonizer through annihilation of body, psyche, culture, along with the demarcation of space. And secondly the violence of the colonized as an attempt to retrieve dignity, sense of self, and history through anti-colonial struggle. Black Skin, White Masks applies a historical critique on the complex ways in which identity, particularly Blackness, is constructed and produced.
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