Thursday, 17 November 2016

Fanon as Example and Figure: A Conversation Between Oscar Guardiola-Rivera and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

“Let me say from the outset that it would be a mistake to make Fanon into a clay model for revolution,” says Gayatri Spivak. I’ve asked her about Göran Olson’s 2014 celebrated documentary Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense, which she prefaced. Herself the author of an influential body work that includes A Critique of Postcolonial Reason and more recently a translation of Aimé Césaire’s play A Season in the Congo, she engaged Olson’s film in signature critical mode. As a counterpoint to the documentary, her preface avoids the often repeated story of Fanon as a champion of counter-violence.  “Instead,” she says, “one must understand that in the initial chapters of The Wretched of the Earth, which a lot of people read as an apology of violence, Fanon is actually claiming complicity with what was surrounding him. That is, the violence of colonization.” “I will be as violent as they are, when they hold my life as worth less than theirs,” says Frantz Fanon, the healer. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Black Left Feminist View On Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism

Carole Boyce Davis, AAIHS

My point of entry to this engagement with Cedric Robinson’s Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition is as a black left feminist–thanks to the formation defined by Mary Helen Washington and used by Erik McDuffie in Sojourning for Freedom. Indeed, black left feminism is one of the political positions that describes Claudia Jones in my book though it was not explicitly indicated by using those specific terms.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice

by Walter Johnson, The Boston Review

In Memory of Cedric Robinson (1940–2016)

It is a commonplace to say that slavery “dehumanized” enslaved people, but to do so is misleading, harmful, and worth resisting.

I hasten to add that there are, of course, plenty of right-minded reasons for adopting the notion of “dehumanization.” It is hard to square the idea of millions of people being bought and sold, of systematic sexual violation, natal alienation, forced labor, and starvation with any sort of “humane” behavior: these are the sorts of things that should never be done to human beings. By terming these actions “inhuman” and suggesting that they either relied upon or accomplished the “dehumanization” of enslaved people, however, we are participating in a sort of ideological exchange that is no less baleful for being so familiar. We are separating a normative and aspirational notion of humanity from the sorts of exploitation and violence that history suggests may well be definitive of human beings: we are separating ourselves from our own histories of perpetration. To say so is not to suggest that there is no difference between the past and the present; it is merely that we should not overwrite the complex determinations of history with simple-minded notions of moral progress.

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.

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.