Monday, 29 August 2016

The Podcast for Social Research, Episode 14: Violence and Resistance – Frantz Fanon

In the fourteenth episode of the Podcast for Social Research, Anjuli, Tony, and Ajay talk through the life, work, and legacy of Frantz Fanon, the Martiniquean psychiatrist and philosopher of decolonization who was also a veteran of World War II and an adherent of the Algerian revolution. This conversation takes up major texts in Fanon’s oeuvre (Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth) as well as profound theoretical controversies that radiate from them—idiocy, the literary dimensions of Fanon’s work, his strangeness of form and methodology, the psychological inflections of his writing, the political structure of states and colonies, the best footnote in all of twentieth-century philosophy, and particularly the nature and meaning of violence as praxis, “perfect mediation,” symbol, and atmosphere—violence as reason to despair—and as reason not to.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Why Frantz Fanon Still Matters

Nigel Gibson, The Critique
Living Dream And Nightmare

Over sixty years ago, Frantz Fanon wrote Black Skin White Masks in hopes that it would aid disalienation. He submitted the work as the thesis for his medical degree at the University of Lyon in France. It was not accepted by his supervisor and thus failed as a thesis. However, Black Skin White Masks has had a remarkable afterlife as a foundational text across academic disciplines and essential for radical social activists.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

On Frantz Fanon: An Interview With Lewis R. Gordon

Lewis Gordon

Kirchgassner: Describe the time in your life when you first read Frantz Fanon. What were your initial impressions of his writings and why is Fanon still important for your own work today?

Gordon: I first attempted to read Fanon when I was about thirteen years of age. My uncle, Shaleem Solomon, is a Rastafarian. He had a collection of books on Black Liberation, which included writings by Almicar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, and Kwame Nkrumah. I found Fanon’s prose gripping, but I didn’t yet know about the thinkers to whom he was referring and the contexts of his discussion beyond the clear ones of colonialism and racism. Those ideas stayed in the back of my mind, however, as I soon after at fourteen read works by Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Angela Davis, with additions of G.W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx. When I read Jean-Jacques Rousseau during my years at Lehman College, I kept hearing the voice of Fanon. I was delighted to see Les Damnés de la terre (“The Damned of the Earth,” more popularly known as “The Wretched of the Earth”) in M. Shawn Copeland’s graduate seminar on Political Theology when I was a doctoral student at Yale, and the supervisor of my dissertation, the late Professor Maurice Natanson, was very enthusiastic about his inclusion in the thesis. Fanon became a constant presence in my work because he addressed human affairs, particularly those pertaining to Black people, with a heavy dose of something often unfashionable in the academy: reality.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

When Law Is Not Justice: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak interviewed by Brad Evans

Brad Evans: Throughout your work, you have written about the conditions faced by the globally disadvantaged, notably in places such as India, China and Africa. How might we use philosophy to better understand the various types of violence that erupt as a result of the plight of the marginalized in the world today?

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: While violence is not beyond naming and diagnosis, it does raise many challenging questions all the same. I am a pacifist. I truly believe in the power of nonviolence. But we cannot categorically deny a people the right to resist violence, even, under certain conditions, with violence. Sometimes situations become so intolerable that moral certainties are no longer meaningful. There is a difference here between condoning such a response and trying to understand why the recourse to violence becomes inevitable.

Liberal Democracy & Ayllu Democracy in Boliva

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

ANC legacies? Retrieving and deploying emancipatory values today

Raymond Suttner, The Daily Maverick

For many decades and for many people, the name “ANC” conjured up selflessness, sacrifice in the service of the oppressed people of South Africa and the meaning of freedom itself. People bent every effort to link themselves with the message of the ANC. They risked police attention and possible arrest by listening to the ANC broadcasts on Radio Freedom, beamed from Lusaka and other African states in the period of illegality. They read any scrap of paper or document or listened to any message broadcast from the ANC in exile, for the organisation represented their hope for freedom. It enjoyed great legitimacy and authority in the imagination of very many South Africans.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Cedric J. Robinson: the Making of a Black Radical Intellectual

Cedric Robinson
Robin D.G.Kelly, Counter Punch

Just as Thucydides believed that historical consciousness of a people in crisis provided the possibility of more virtuous action, more informed and rational choices, so do I.
 –Cedric J. Robinson, 1999

On Sunday, June 5, we lost an intellectual giant. Cedric Robinson was a wholly original thinker whose five books and dozens of essays challenged liberal and Marxist theories of political change, exposed the racial character of capitalism, unearthed a Black Radical Tradition and examined its social, political, cultural, and intellectual bases, interrogated the role of theater and film in forming ideologies of race and class, and overturned standard historical interpretations of the last millennia. Like W. E. B. Du Bois, Michel Foucault, Sylvia Wynter, and Edward Said, Robinson was that rare polymath capable of seeing the whole—its genesis as well as its possible future. No discipline could contain him. No geography or era was beyond his reach. He was equally adept at discussing Ancient Greece, England’s Middle Ages, plantations in Cyprus or South Carolina, anticolonial rebellions in Africa or Asia, as well as contemporary politics of Iran and Vietnam, El Salvador and the Philippines. No thinker—not Hegel, not Hannah Arendt, not even Frantz Fanon—was above criticism. We can seed why academia basically ignored his writings until recently: he threw down the gauntlet before the alter of “Social Sciences,” and challenged Black Studies to embrace its radical mission, which he once described as “a critique of Western Civilization.”

Frantz Fanon: Conflicts and Feminisms by Tracy Sharpley-Whiting

By Gorata Chengeta

In her book, Tracy Sharpley-Whiting (1998) appraises the feminist arguments about Frantz Fanon’s work. In sum, her argument is that Fanon faces the cliché of being “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, because (as she shows) he could be accused of sexism whether or not he wrote explicitly about women’s marginalization (1998, p.74). In this essay, I will explore Sharpley-Whiting’s main arguments and relate these discussions to developments in intersectional feminism.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Political violence threatens an already battered democracy

Raymond Suttner, The Daily Maverick

When I joined the liberation struggle led by the ANC/SACP alliance in the late 1960s, it entailed support for armed struggle. Until then I had been a liberal without the benefit of any exposure to the ANC and its allies, which had been absent from public politics in the aftermath of the Rivonia arrests.

I then abandoned my reading of Martin Luther King Jr and Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, whose conceptions of morality and care for the well-being of other human beings had inspired me. I did not abandon their injunction to combat indifference to “evil”, or remove their works from my bookshelf. But I did not see them as relevant to a life in which I had taken a course that entailed the use of force to combat and bring down the apartheid regime. I did not romanticise armed struggle, but saw it as a necessary choice with which I wanted to associate myself.